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CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox began the second half Friday with their biggest crowd of the season and started the night off like a team with something to prove.
But the opening salvo turned out to be a mere blip, and the 34,516 that showed up on “Fireworks Night” had little to cheer for in a 7-1 loss to the Houston Astros.
Astros starter Lance McCullers (7-2) limited the Sox to one run and two hits over seven innings while striking out 10, snapping their five-game win streak and giving Houston a 5-0 edge in the season series. The Sox have lost 15 of their last 19 games to Houston since 2018.
In the most anticipated series in years, Sox fans greeted the members of the 2017 Astros with disdain in each at-bat early on. It was their first opportunity to boo José Altuve and Carlos Correa since the sign-stealing scandal was revealed, and many were ready for it.
But as the game wore on and with the Sox offense still in sleep mode, the jeering dissipated, and the crowd turned to performing the wave.
Sox starter Dylan Cease fell to 7-5, suffering his first home loss in five decisions. Cease allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings while striking out 10, including five straight in the first and second innings. Cease became the first Sox pitcher to record eight-plus strikeouts in 10 straight starts after Juan Pizarro accomplished the feat in nine straight from Aug. 5 to Sept. 10, 1961.
Tim Anderson started the night off with a bang, tripling to lead off the first and getting the crowd revved at the outset. Yoán Moncada’s RBI double gave the Sox a 1-0 lead, but McCullers settled down and didn’t allow another hit in his seven-inning stint. Anderson had the only other hit leading off the ninth.
Not only are the Astros the best-hitting team in baseball, they also come through in the clutch. All seven of the Astros’ runs came on two-out hits.
Cease retired the first eight Astros hitters before Martín Maldonado walked with two outs in the third. Altuve reached on an infield hit to short, and after Cease hit Michael Brantley with a pitch to load the bases, Yuli Gurriel’s two-run double put the Astros out in front.
Brantley’s solo home run to the left of the right-field foul pole with two outs in the fifth made it 3-1.
The Astros scored four more runs off the Sox bullpen in the seventh. After a pair of wild pitches by Aaron Bummer put runners on second and third, second baseman Leury García couldn’t get a handle on a grounder by Kyle Tucker, allowing another run to score on an infield hit. After a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, José Ruiz replaced Bummer and served up a bases-clearing double to Myles Straw to put the game out of reach.
Some of the crowd filed out after Straw’s hit, though most stuck around for the postgame fireworks show.
Carlos Rodón, who made the American League All-Star team but did not pitch, gets the start Saturday night.