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Astros rally past White Sox in ninth

HOUSTON — Carlos Rodon says he wants to be great.

The White Sox believe he can be.

Rodon, though, wants you to know he really, really means it.

“You take a No. 3 pick, the mindset is you want to be the best,” the 25-year-old lefty said this week.

Carlos Rodon delivers in the first inning against the Astros in Houston. Eric Christian Smith/AP

Carlos Rodon delivers in the first inning against the Astros in Houston. Eric Christian Smith/AP

Rodon, whom the Sox selected with their first pick in 2014, has the mid-to-upper-90s fastball and dynamite slider to be great. Yet injuries, along with shoulder surgery last September, have made it difficult for him to meet the high expectations early in his career. He made his sixth start of the season against the Astros on Thursday night, going six innings at Minute Maid Park against likely future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander.

The Sox certainly weren’t great in the ninth, as their one-run lead turned into a 4-3 walk-off loss. George Springer singled, scoring Tony Kemp, to tie the score at 3 before Yuli Gurriel’s single with one out brought Marwin Gonzalez home for the winner, halting closer Joakim Soria’s streak of scoreless appearances at 15. Soria (0-3) hadn’t allowed a run since May 18.

How lofty are Rodon’s expectations? He utters the words “Hall of Fame” in the discussion, though not specifically tied to his name.

“You don’t want to come off too cocky. I’m not a guy who likes to be that way. I’m quiet,” he said. “But in my head, I’ve always had expectations that are far higher than anyone has for me.

“As soon as I step on that mound, I’m a different person. That fire, that fight, I want to be one of the best. I’m not playing this game just to make money, not just to be mediocre. Hopefully, every one of my teammates shows up the same way: ‘I want to be a Hall of Famer, I want to be one of the best guys.’ You’ve got to have that.”

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Rodon said after the game that he was “geeked” about facing Verlander and the defending World Series champion Astros. Though he matched a career high with six walks, he kept the 30-57 Sox in an intense battle, struggling in spurts to master his command but featuring enough good stuff to go toe-to-toe with Verlander. He struck out six, gave up five hits and left with the game in a 2-2 tie.

“Whatever he throws, he’s pretty filthy,” catcher Omar Narvaez said. “He wasn’t hitting his spots today, but he showed a lot today.”

The only damage against Rodon was Jose Altuve’s two-run homer that broke a scoreless tie in the fifth. But his pitch count of 109 — 58 of them strikes — called for relief from right-hander Juan Minaya.

Rodon (4.29 ERA) called his outing “a fight” where he needed good pitches to overcome the walks.

“There were some good sliders for strikes that bailed me out, and I kind of found that,’’ he said. “Piece by piece, it’s starting to come together. I wish I had it all ready, but it’s coming around.”

Verlander, who struck out 10 and walked none while allowing four hits in seven innings, had a 2-0 lead in the sixth when Narvaez homered and Yolmer Sanchez doubled in Yoan Moncada to tie it.

Leury Garcia’s homer in the eighth against Chris Devenski gave the Sox a 3-2 lead before things fell apart an inning later. Making matters worse, Devenski hit shortstop Tim Anderson with a pitch on the forearm after Garcia’s homer, and Anderson exited in the ninth. Manager Rick Renteria said he’ll be day-to-day.

“Whatever he throws, he’s pretty filthy,” catcher Omar Narvaez said. “He wasn’t hitting his spots today, but he showed a lot today.”

The only damage against Rodon was Jose Altuve’s two-run homer that broke a scoreless tie in the fifth. But his pitch count of 109 — 58 of them strikes — called for relief from right-hander Juan Minaya.

Rodon (4.29 ERA) called his outing “a fight” where he needed good pitches to overcome the walks.

“There were some good sliders for strikes that bailed me out, and I kind of found that,’’ he said. “Piece by piece, it’s starting to come together. I wish I had it all ready, but it’s coming around.”

Verlander, who struck out 10 and walked none while allowing four hits in seven innings, had a 2-0 lead in the sixth when Narvaez homered and Yolmer Sanchez doubled in Yoan Moncada to tie it.

Leury Garcia’s homer in the eighth against Chris Devenski gave the Sox a 3-2 lead before things fell apart an inning later. Making matters worse, Devenski hit shortstop Tim Anderson with a pitch on the forearm after Garcia’s homer, and Anderson exited in the ninth. Manager Rick Renteria said he’ll be day-to-day.