Fiers cruises as Astros blank White Sox

Fiers cruises as Astros blank White Sox

HOUSTON -- Coming off a road trip in which they averaged eight runs per game, the Astros let their pitching do the heavy lifting Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

Mike Fiers threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits, and combined with relievers Ken Giles, Luke Gregerson and Chris Devenski to shut out the White Sox, 5-0, and send the Astros to their 11th win in their past 12 games.

With the win, the Astros moved into the second Wild Card spot in the American League just two months after finishing April with a 7-17 record. They're 36-20 since May 1.

A.J. Hinch on Astros' win

"We've gotten ourselves back into relevance, and I'm proud of this group," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're playing pretty good baseball. We have a great energy about us, our vibe is good, our personality is good, we're having a lot of fun and winning games we should win. What comes with that is a much better standing in July than it did in April."

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez (1-4) allowed one run and two hits through six innings and 66 pitches before Carlos Gomez walloped a two-run homer in the seventh to make it 3-0. Gomez's blast scored Carlos Correa, who reached on a throwing error by Tyler Saladino. Gonzalez allowed three hits and three runs (two earned) in seven innings in his longest start of the season.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Go Go Gomez goes deep: Gomez has been a different player since coming off the disabled list in late May, and all four of his home runs and 13 of his 18 RBIs have come since his return. Since coming off the DL on May 31, he's hitting .286 with five doubles, four homers, 15 RBIs and a .835 OPS.

Gomez's two-run homer

"He's really worked hard to get himself back to be a productive player," Hinch said. "Since he's come back from the DL, he's been as productive as we could expect and wish for. I think his at-bats have been pretty good, and even some of his outs the last week have been productive and very loud. I know there's a confidence that's growing with him." More >

A little to the left: With two outs and Brett Lawrie on first in the second inning, Avisail Garcia crushed a Fiers' offering to left. But he didn't pull the ball quite enough and it hit off the top of the wall in left-center for a double. The White Sox were unable to score, as Saladino flew out to center.

"We got some guys on, and anytime it looked like we got something going, he just made some good pitches and we couldn't get anything going," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Avi had the double, can't get anything out of that. That's the part that's frustrating. We kept getting opportunities but couldn't get anything out of it."

Lawrie's double

"We didn't square a lot of balls up," Saladino said. "He pitched all right, but we definitely could have got him. Maybe just didn't take the best of swings or something." More >

Reed breaks through: Considering he probably won't be in the starting lineup Saturday or Sunday against tough White Sox lefties Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, Astros rookie A.J. Reed picked a good time to come through with his first Major League hit. Reed ripped a single to right field in the fifth inning, snapping his 0-for-16 drought to start his career.

Reed's first MLB hit

"It's kind of a weight lifted off your shoulders," Reed said. "Now I don't have to come to the ballpark and think 'Today's the day.' I'll go out and relax and have fun." More >

Altuve pretended to give away Reed's first MLB hit

Untimely mistake: A one-run game turned into a three-run Houston lead courtesy of Gomez's two-run homer in the seventh. But the inning started on a throwing error by third baseman Saladino on a Correa grounder that could have gone to first baseman Jose Abreu. The throw was a little low, but Abreu seemed to miss on a catchable scoop attempt. Saladino said that Correa chopper was directly in the lights and he had to wait for it to come down.

"That's the toughest ball when you are playing first, the one that might bounce or might make it in the air," said Saladino of Abreu's attempt. "It is the toughest. It's that one."

QUOTABLE
"We have to stay within ourselves. We have [Chris] Sale tomorrow. We have a pretty good chance of winning a ballgame, and [Jose] Quintana afterward. We have to keep our heads up and keep grinding." --Gonzalez

STREAK COMES TO END
Jose Altuve's streak of reaching base in 32 consecutive games ended Friday when he went 0-for-4 with no walks. It's the longest such streak by an Astros player since Lance Berkman reached in 37 in a row from July 30-Sept. 8, 2004.

"I'm kind of sad a little bit," Altuve said. "I was trying to get on base, but it's OK. We won the game. Start another one tomorrow and keep the winning streak going. That's the most important thing right now."

WHAT'S NEXT
White Sox: A win on Saturday for Sale (13-2, 2.79 ERA) means the southpaw already has surpassed last season's win total. Sale is 4-1 with a 0.66 ERA in five career starts against Houston, striking out 56 over 41 innings.

Astros: Right-hander Doug Fister (8-4, 3.36 ERA) gets the start for the Astros in Saturday's 3:10 p.m. CT game at Minute Maid Park. He had a seven-game winning streak snapped Sunday in Kansas City, but the club has won 10 of the last 11 games he's started.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.