White Sox, Johnny Cueto roll to 7-0 victory against Astros

The Sox finally defeated the Astros in Houston to even the series.

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Johnny Cueto pitched seven scoreless innings Saturday.

White Sox righty Johnny Cueto reacts after starting a double play against the Astros during the seventh inning Saturday, June 18, 2022, in Houston. (AP)

AP Photos

HOUSTON — Right-hander Johnny Cueto was magnificent, Luis Robert’s bat packed a punch against Justin Verlander and the White Sox finally won in Houston, a day after getting routed.

The Sox got mad and got even.

‘‘As I’ve come to expect from this club, we put [Friday] behind us and got our fourth win on this road trip,’’ manager Tony La Russa said after the Sox trounced the Astros 7-0 on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. ‘‘And we go for the gusto [Sunday].’’

A victory, with right-hander Michael Kopech pitching on ‘‘Sunday Night Baseball,’’ would give the Sox (31-32) a 5-1 road trip and a .500 record they haven’t seen since May 29, when they beat the Cubs.

But you have to get to a game below .500 to get there, and Cueto ‘‘set the tempo,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘He’s an artist out there.’’

Cueto (1-3) allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings and finally got the run support he needed to notch his first victory, and Robert drove in four runs while going 3-for-5. The victory was the Sox’ first after seven consecutive losses at Minute Maid Park, including two in the American League Division Series last season and a 13-3 drubbing Friday.

‘‘I’m telling you, it’s a very resilient, tough-minded, tough-heart, tough-guts club,’’ La Russa said.

Before the game, La Russa said the Sox were ‘‘[ticked] off’’ about loss Friday. Then their all-righty lineup peppered Verlander (8-3) with eight hits in less than four innings. Seven of them were singles, including one by Robert that drove in two runs. That was followed by a two-run double by Jose Abreu that staked Cueto to a 4-0 lead in the third.

Seby Zavala, Danny Mendick and Andrew Vaughn started the inning with singles to load the bases. Vaughn singled three times, extending his hitting streak to seven games and raising his average to .322.

The Sox scored four runs in the third and three in the fourth. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve let Vaughn’s sharp grounder go between his legs for a costly two-out error, scoring the fifth run, and Robert doubled in two more runs to make it 7-0 and end Verlander’s afternoon. Three of the runs against Verlander, who was 7-2 with a 2.32 ERA in his previous 13 starts against the Sox, were unearned.

‘‘This might just be a situation where you give credit where credit is due,’’ Verlander said.

After allowing a single to Altuve leading off the first, Cueto held the Astros hitless until an infield single by Alex Bregman leading off the seventh. Cueto then fielded a high chopper by Yordan Alvarez to start a double play.

Cueto struck out five and walked two, throwing 93 pitches and lowering his ERA to 2.95. He threw 77 pitches in five innings of emergency relief of Kopech last Sunday, giving up three runs against the Rangers. He has pitched at least six innings in each of his six starts, something no other Sox starter has come close to achieving.

‘‘I just tried to keep the ball low in the zone because I know that they can hit,’’ Cueto said through a translator. ‘‘I was good with executing.’’

‘‘When he’s on with his stuff, he’s as tough as anybody,’’ said Astros manager Dusty Baker, who managed the 36-year-old Cueto with the Reds. ‘‘He knows how to pitch.’’

Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez completed the shutout with two innings of relief.

Robert is batting .317 during a nine-game hitting streak, and his four RBI tied a career high.

‘‘The win was important, as is every one, especially in that situation we are in right now,’’ Robert said through a translator. ‘‘It gave us a chance to get the series, which is the most important thing.’’

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