HOUSTON — Two two-out rallies came back to bite the Chicago White Sox.
And instead of a second straight victory to start the season, the Sox suffered a 6-3 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday in front of 41,453 at Minute Maid Park.
Yordan Alvarez delivered the big hit, driving in three with a double in the seventh inning to give the Astros the lead.
“All rallies are deflating, but when you get a couple of quick outs and then you give up a few runs, obviously that hurts a little more,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “All rallies hurt.”
The Sox couldn’t hold a three-run lead, falling to 1-1 after rallying for a 3-2 win Thursday in the season opener.
“Overall, a couple of walks just got to us,” Grifol said. “Especially in the bottom of the order that led to some runs. Hard-fought game. A pitch or two away, a knock or two away and the outcome is different.”
The Sox led 3-0 in the sixth, with Eloy Jiménez driving in two runs on two doubles. Yoán Moncada also had an RBI double, one of three hits for the third baseman.
Sox starter Lance Lynn pitched well but ran into trouble in the sixth. He retired the first two batters of the inning before former Sox first baseman José Abreu singled to center. Kyle Tucker followed with a two-run homer to center, cutting the Sox lead to one.
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That was the last batter for Lynn, who allowed the two runs on three hits with six strikeouts and four walks in 5⅔ innings.
“I walked too many guys and then gave up the homer in the sixth, it’s on me,” Lynn said. “I have to get through that inning. If I get through that inning, we’ve got a chance to win. Put the bullpen in a bad spot. They had to come get me out of the inning and it didn’t go our way after that.
“When you don’t go six innings, you didn’t do your job as a starter. So I didn’t do my job (Friday) and it cost us the game.”
The momentum continued to trend the Astros’ way in the seventh with stellar defense.
Third baseman Alex Bregman fielded Tim Anderson’s slow grounder with his bare hand and made a throw to first just in time to begin the inning. And with a runner on and one out, Tucker made a leaping catch near the wall in right field to rob Andrew Benintendi.
“That ball that (Benintendi) hit down the right-field line, I don’t know if it would have been a homer or not, but it was a heck of a play,” Grifol said. “We would have just added right back after giving up a couple, we would have put a crooked number on the board with that one.
“It was just a great play by a really good player. I’ve seen him make those plays before.”
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In the bottom of the seventh, reliever Kendall Graveman surrendered a two-out walk to Martín Maldonado, the ninth hitter in the Astros lineup.
“You can’t walk (Maldonado) there,” Graveman said. “That’s the game. Got to be better than that. That game’s on me, solely. I have two pitches, two outs and then a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Continue to challenge, continue to challenge the strike zone. I’ve got to find a way to get out of there.”
Jeremy Peña blooped a single to left and Bregman walked, loading the bases for Alvarez.
Jake Diekman entered for the Sox, creating a lefty-lefty matchup. Alvarez went the other way to left for the three-run double, giving the Astros a 5-3 lead.
“(I) shouldn’t put (Diekman) in that situation,” Graveman said. “Should never be in that situation. We fought and battled and I thought we hit the ball well off (Astros starter Cristian) Javier. Bullpen confidence, we’ve got to continue to build confidence in our team by throwing the ball well. And when we have a lead in the late innings, we’ve got to go win baseball games and that’s how we build confidence.
“It’s a long season, two games in, obviously you never want that to happen. But you’ve got to continue to work and get better. Somebody’s going to pick us up (Saturday) and let’s go try to win a series and win a game. We’ve still got two ahead of us.”