HOUSTON — The White Sox did just enough bad stuff to avoid winning Saturday in the middle game of a three-game set against the worst team in the American League.

Final score: Astros 6, Sox 5.

Final tally of mistakes and missed opportunities: Suffice it to say there were more of them on the losing side.

The Astros jumped all over Sox starter Hector Noesi (0-4) in the first inning, scoring four runs — including three on a home run by Jason Castro — before a single out had been recorded. The damage would’ve been much worse if not for a brilliant two-out catch by right fielder Moises Sierra on a ball hit by Marwin Gonzalez that would’ve scored two had it dropped.

The Sox appeared ready to mount a major rally against Jarrod Cosart (3-3) in the top of the second. Cosart allowed three walks, one hit and a pair of sacrifice flies in the inning before Alejandro De Aza bailed him out by being thrown out at third on the sacrifice fly that scored Sayan Viciedo to make it 4-2.

The Astros scored their decisive sixth run in the bottom of the seventh after reliever Scott Downs’ errant pickoff attempt at first base moved George Springer into scoring position. Springer then scored on a Dexter Fowler single to make it 6-3.

Chad Qualls retired the Sox in order in the ninth. John Danks will oppose Brad Peacock in Sunday’s rubber match.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg