‘We needed this’: Chicago White Sox make a 2nd-half statement by taking 2 of 3 from the Houston Astros behind Carlos Rodón’s dominant outing in a 4-0 win

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Carlos Rodón didn’t get to pitch in the All-Star Game last week in Denver.

The Chicago White Sox left-hander looked at the bigger picture.

“I wanted to save it for the second half because it’s more important,” Rodón said Sunday.

Rodón pitched seven overpowering innings in his first start after the break, leading the Sox to a 4-0 victory against the Houston Astros in front of 34,148 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Rodón allowed one hit and struck out 10 as the American League Central-leading Sox took two of three against the AL West-leading Astros.

“We all have a common goal here,” Rodón said. “The well-being of the team is more important than individual honors. Those are nice, but our goal is the postseason and that’s what we are trying to focus on.”

For the second straight day, pitching and power propelled the Sox.

Rodón followed Lucas Giolito’s gem with one of his own.

“Lucas was pretty incredible (Saturday) night,” Rodón said. “I was trying to do the same thing (by going the distance), but (José) Altuve had the 10 pitch at-bat (in the sixth) and fought me well and got me out in the seventh.

“Overall today was good. We’ll hand it off to Lance (Lynn on Monday) and keep this thing going.”

It was Rodón’s 11th career double-digit strikeout game and his fourth this season.

“The thing we all noticed, from the first pitch to the first hitter, he was coming at it with his best stuff, very aggressive,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “You could tell he had respect for that team because he was coming out there ready to pitch. He maintained it for seven. What he and (Giolito) did back-to-back is impressive, amazing, much-needed.”

The only hit he allowed came in the third, a one-out single by Abraham Toro. Rodón retired the final 14 batters he faced.

“I felt good coming into today,” Rodón said. “Tried to remain confident out there. That break was much needed. As you guys know, it’s been a while since I pitched to an All-Star break and after an All-Star break. I needed that for my body. I think it will do well in the second half.”

Rodón, Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks combined to limit the dangerous Astros lineup to the one hit.

“Obviously Lucas really set the tone for us, kind of changing the tone and turning that corner,” Kopech said. “To get a win against those guys is obviously huge, and to go a complete game is even more impressive. And so I think we all kind of took that energy into today.

“I know Carlos did, does what he does every outing, went out there and dominated. And that was a lot of fun to see. It was fun to be a spectator of it, and to come in and be a part of it after (he was done) was pretty cool. Those guys are helping us out a lot. It’s cool to just pitch behind them and know every day you have a chance to win with who we have starting the game. That’s a nice feeling, for sure.”

Yoán Moncada and All-Star Tim Anderson homered to pace the offense. The Sox hit five home runs in Saturday’s 10-1 victory.

Danny Mendick began the scoring Sunday with a two-out RBI single in the second. Moncada hit a solo homer in the fourth. Anderson hit a solo homer one inning later, his second consecutive game going deep.

Anderson has a 15-game hitting streak, matching a career high. He has at least one hit and one run in 11 straight, a team record.

Adam Engel made it 4-0 with an RBI single in the seventh.

Kopech struck out one in the eighth and Hendriks struck out two in the ninth as the Sox improved to a season-high 20 games over .500 (56-36).

Much had been made about the Sox record against teams with winning records (now 18-25). That included a four-game sweep by the Astros in June in Houston.

“They are a very good team,” said Rodón (8-3), who lowered his ERA to 2.14. “That’s a team we’ll probably see in the playoffs. They are tough top to bottom, and it builds confidence when you have a start like that. You just keep going.”

The Sox made a statement in their first series after the break.

“We needed this,” Rodón said. “We needed to take this series and prove that we can beat them and that we are just as good as them. I think that will lead into the rest of the second half. Something we can build off.”

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