HOUSTON (AP) — Luis Robert Jr. and Yoán Moncada homered, Mike Clevinger threw five shutout innings and the Chicago White Sox defeated the Houston Astros 6-3 on Sunday.
Robert hit a solo home run in the fifth and made a spectacular sliding catch on the left-center warning track in the ninth to rob Kyle Tucker of extra bases. Moncada hit a two-run homer in the ninth as Chicago gained a four-game split of the opening series.
“I know we left some runners on base, but we also got some big hits,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “We played some really good defense. Robert’s catch was really an unbelievable catch. … We talked about it earlier today, (Robert’s) one swing away from locking in, but he can beat you in so many ways, and today he showed it.”
Down 6-1, Houston closed it in the ninth on RBI singles by José Abreu and David Hensley off Reynaldo López. Grifol came onto the field attempting to make a mound visit, but umpires conferenced and he was turned back because Chicago had reached its limit.
Grifol said pitching coach Ethan Katz thought they had one more mound visit, but the first-year manager added umpires handled the situation well.
Astros manager Dusty Baker spoke with umpire Bill Miller. Baker said he was told teams get an extra mound visit in the ninth inning, but that’s only if the team is out of mound visits entering the inning.
“In our minds, they were out of visits and should have taken the pitcher out of the game,” Baker said. “You’d have to ask them their interpretation of the rules.”
López stepped off the rubber with Chas McCormick at the plate and a 1-2 count and was charged a balk for a third disengagement in violation of this year’s new rules. López threw a ball, then retired McCormick on an infield pop with his 37th pitch — seven more than he threw in any outing last year.
Clevinger (1-0) allowed three hits and struck out eight but walked three and hit two batters. The right-hander, who signed a $12 million, one-year deal, was 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 23 appearances last season with San Diego.
Clevinger said he felt like he was back with the way his slider and fastball were moving. “I felt good,” Clevinger said. “I thought that was a good start. I felt alive. I felt really good body wise and healthy.”
Chicago left the bases loaded in the second and sixth, stranded runners on second and third in the fourth and went 5 for 19 with runners in scoring position with 12 left on base.
Luis Garcia (0-1) allowed three runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. The Astros were 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners.
“They threatened all game today like they did in the first game,” Baker said. “They had a lot of runners on base. We got out of trouble a few times. It was just an ugly game.”
Andrew Vaughn had an RBI single in the sixth and scored on Oscar Colás’ double for a 3-0 lead.
McCormick scored on Gregory Santos’ wild pitch in the bottom half, but Tim Anderson had an RBI double in the eighth, Moncada homered off Seth Martinez in the ninth for a five-run margin.
ANOTHER AWARDS CEREMONY
For a third straight day, the Astros handed out awards prior to a game. Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Framber Valdez received 2022 first team All-MLB awards, while Ryan Pressly and Tucker received second team honors.
Astros: OF Michael Brantley went back to Florida on Sunday to continue his rehabilitation following surgery on his right shoulder last year. Baker said he hoped to have Brantley back by the end of the month or sooner, adding that Brantley would likely go on a rehab assignment before he returns to the Astros. … RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (muscle strain in right arm) threw again on flat ground.
White Sox: RHP Michael Kopech, who went 5-9 with a 3.54 ERA in 25 starts in 2022, will start Chicago’s home opener on Monday against San Francisco.
Astros: RHP Hunter Brown, who went 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA in seven appearances, including two starts last season, will start Monday in the first of a three-game series against Detroit.
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