White Sox score four in eighth, beat Astros

Yoan Moncada’s two-run single snapped the tie after Eloy Jimenez had made it 2-2 with a double.

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Johnny Cueto gave up two runs (one earned) in eight innings Monday night.

White Sox starting pitcher Johnny Cueto deliver during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Houston Astros on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Chicago. (AP)

AP Photos

Mark down the White Sox’ 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Astros on Monday.

It had the look and feel of something pivotal.

Potentially, that is, because these Sox have had invigorating victories before, only to relapse. But this one, against a 75-42 team that ran roughshod over them in the playoffs last season, felt meaningful. It came in the first of a four-game series that lifted them to a season-tying four games over .500.

“That’s what we need to do in every game, have the same energy level and excitement that we had today,” said right-hander Johnny Cueto, who challenged the Sox to show more fire after his last start, a loss in Kansas City on Wednesday. “We need every win. All these games are playoff games.”

Cueto shook off an error by second baseman Josh Harrison that probably cost him two runs and strung together seven scoreless innings through the eighth, and Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada delivered clutch two-run hits after two outs in the eighth to wake up a crowd of 18,205.

Liam Hendriks put two runners on in the ninth but converted his 17th consecutive save.

The eighth inning started with AJ Pollock’s two-out infield single. Astros manager Dusty Baker then pulled Jose Urquidy, who was breezing at 94 pitches with a six-hitter, for Rafael Montero.

And that’s when it all turned in the Sox’ favor. Andrew Vaughn doubled to right off the end of his bat, sending Pollock to third. Jimenez, after swinging late on two fastballs, pulled an 0-2 heater boring in on him down the third-base line for a two-run double.

“That wasn’t a good pitch to hit but I still thank God I had the ability to keep that ball fair,” Jimenez said.

Moncada then singled in the go-ahead runs.

“Like everybody [in the dugout] said, the game doesn’t end until it ended,” Moncada said through translator Billy Russo.

“We kept battling and we kept chipping away and grinding until that eighth inning.”

Baker blamed himself for pulling Urquidy for Montero, who pitched against the Athletics Sunday.

“This was tough to take,” Baker said. “You can put it on me. It’s my decision ultimately, and it didn’t work.”

The Sox trail the first-place Guardians by two games in the AL Central. After three more games against the Astros, the Sox play at Cleveland this weekend.

Cueto has a 2.47 ERA in his last nine starts and is the first Sox pitcher since Carlos Rodón in 2018 with nine consecutive quality starts. Cueto has allowed three runs or less in 15 of his 16 starts.

Robert still out

Luis Robert took batting practice and went through fielding work, closer to a return to the lineup. How he feels Tuesday after taking full swings for the first time since spraining his left wrist sliding into second base Friday could determine if he plays.

Foster sent down, Velasquez reinstated

Right-hander Vince Velasquez was reinstated from the 15-day injured list and right-hander Matt Foster was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

Velasquez had been on the IL on July 6 with a blister on his right index finger.

Left-hander Aaron Bummer (lat strain) threw a bullpen.

“It went well,” said Bummer, who is eyeing a return in September.

Royal suspended for incident with fan

Royals pitcher Amir Garrett received a three-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for throwing a drink on a spectator in the stands on Aug. 2 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Garrett is appealing.

This and that

The Sox extended their home winning streak to a season-high six. They’ve won eight of their last nine at home.

† Sox starting pitchers own a 2.72 ERA over their last 23 games.

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