CHICAGO (AP) — It all comes down to plate discipline for Luis Robert Jr. When he swings at strikes, good things happen for the Chicago White Sox.
Robert homered and drove in two runs, and the White Sox beat the Houston Astros 3-1 on Saturday night.
Tim Anderson and Yoán Moncada each had three hits for the White Sox, who had lost three straight and four of five. Dylan Cease pitched six shutout innings.
Chicago went ahead to stay with two runs in the eighth against Rafael Montero (0-3). Moncada hit a leadoff double and scored on Robert’s liner to right. Seby Zavala added a two-out RBI single for a 3-1 lead.
Robert, who also went deep during Friday night’s 5-1 loss, is batting .415 (17 for 41) with five homers and 13 RBIs in 12 May games.
“His chases are down. He’s getting good pitches to hit. He’s seeing the ball really well,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “He took some good pitches today. … He’s extremely dangerous when he stays in the strike zone, and he’s working hard at it.”
Joe Kelly (1-1) got four outs for the win, and Kendall Graveman worked the ninth for his second save. Robert made a sliding grab in center for the final out.
Jeremy Peña had three of Houston’s eight hits. The Astros had won three straight.
Montero has surrendered nine runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings over his last four appearances.
“It’s not like he’s throwing the ball bad,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s like, No. 1, he’s not getting any breaks and No. 2, his location is off some.”
Cease allowed four hits — all singles — struck out five and walked two. The right-hander, who finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting last year, was 0-2 with an 8.25 ERA in his previous five starts.
Houston threatened in the first, loading the bases with two out, but Cease escaped the jam when Peña bounced into a fielder’s choice.
“Just working on some mechanical stuff to help me execute more consistently,” Cease said. “I think, especially after that first, I was able to get into a rhythm with it, and it finally became kind of automatic like it should be when everything’s going well.”
Chicago jumped in front on Robert’s 10th homer, a 427-foot drive to left off Brandon Bielak with one out in the fourth.
Robert departed before the media were allowed into the clubhouse after the game.
“He’s got every tool. It’s just a matter of continue to try to be consistent with it,” Anderson said of Robert. “If he can be consistent with it, he’s for sure top five in the game.”
That was it for the White Sox against Bielak, who scattered eight hits, struck out four and walked none in five innings.
The Astros tied it at 1 in the seventh, taking advantage of a couple of well-placed hits.
With two out and runners on the corners after Jake Meyers’ bloop single, Mauricio Dubón hit a high infield chopper between the mound and first base. Kelly and first baseman Andrew Vaughn each went for the ball, and Dubón easily beat Kelly to the bag for the RBI single.
Astros: OF Chas McCormick (back tightness) missed his fourth consecutive game. He could return on Sunday. … 2B Jose Altuve (broken right thumb) went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts in his second rehab game with Triple-A Sugar Land. He went 0 for 4 in his first appearance on Friday. “He’s done everything so far,” Baker said. “Just probably needs some more at-bats.”
White Sox: INF Elvis Andrus was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained left oblique. INF/OF Romy Gonzalez was reinstated from the 10-day IL after being sidelined by right shoulder inflammation. … C Yasmani Grandal was scratched. He left Thursday’s 4-3 loss at Kansas City because of right hamstring tightness. Grifol said Grandal is still feeling the injury “a little bit,” and the manager wanted to be cautious. … INF Jake Burger (strained left oblique) could be activated as soon as Sunday.
Right-handers Hunter Brown (3-1, 3.23 ERA) and Lucas Giolito (2-2, 3.59 ERA) pitch on Sunday in the series finale. Brown is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two May starts for Houston. Giolito tossed six effective innings in Chicago’s 4-2 win at Kansas City on Tuesday.