White Sox-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

The Houston Astros are after their first four-game home sweep in four seasons Monday night.

The slumping Chicago White Sox would settle for one win at this point.

Houston (26-44) won four straight over the Los Angeles Angels from May 31-June 3 as part of its season-best 6-0 run, but hasn't posted a four-game sweep at Minute Maid Park since Sept. 4-7, 2009, versus Philadelphia.

The starting pitching is a major reason the Astros are in this position as that group has allowed six runs in 19 innings in this series and owns a 1.76 ERA in the last seven games.

"It starts and ends with those guys on the mound," manager Bo Porter said after the Astros won their third straight by one run, 5-4 on Sunday.

Houston goes for its fifth straight victory overall with Bud Norris (5-6, 3.47 ERA) trying to avoid his third defeat in as many starts. The right-hander has allowed three runs in seven innings in each of his last two outings, but the Astros have backed him with one total run.

Norris, though, is not going to use that, or pitching with flu-like symptoms, as an excuse.

"I understand I'm not going to feel 100 percent every start, but to go out there and do battle for my team is what I've always played the game to do," he said after Tuesday's 4-0 loss at Seattle - his fifth consecutive quality start

Perhaps a start at home will help Norris, who is 7-3 with a 1.94 ERA in 19 Minute Maid Park starts since the start of 2012.

That doesn't bode well for a White Sox team that's dropped 12 of 13 on the road, plating three runs or less in nine of those games.

Chicago (28-38) has lost four in a row overall - by a total of five runs - to fall 10 games under .500 for the first time since it was 12-22 on May 7, 2011.

The White Sox could drop even farther if they don't start hitting. They're batting .224 in the series, totaling eight runs with 25 strikeouts - 10 with runners in scoring position.

"For once, I am speechless. I don't know why our offense is sputtering," Adam Dunn said after Chicago fell a season-high 9 1/2 games off the AL Central lead.

The White Sox were last swept in a four-game series Aug. 1-4, 2011, against the New York Yankees.

Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.86) will try to prevent that from happening as he eyes his first victory in five starts. The left-hander, 0-1 with a 4.62 ERA since a 3-1 victory over Boston on May 21, was in line for the win Tuesday after allowing four runs in 6 1-3 innings, but failed to earn a decision in his third straight outing with the White Sox falling 7-5 in 10 innings to Toronto.

Carlos Pena (0 for 2) is the only current Astro who has faced Quintana.

Jason Castro hasn't fared well off southpaws this season, hitting .182, but he's homered off left-handers John Danks and Matt Thornton in the last two games. Castro is 5 for 11 during the winning streak, and he's tied with Jose Altuve, Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez for the Astros' lead with three RBIs in those contests.

Dunn, a Houston native, has faced Norris more than any other current White Sox, going 1 for 3 with a double.

Houston has won eight of the last 10 against Chicago.

What to Read Next