HOUSTON -- It took exactly one word for Jose Quintana to sum up his first victory since May 8, ending a stretch of seven straight losses and nine straight starts without a win Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
"Wow," said Quintana with a broad smile after leading the White Sox to a 4-1 win over the Astros and the team's fourth straight series victory.
And Quintana did enough on the field to earn that same sort of superlative reaction from his teammates.
George Springer homered to right-center on Quintana's second pitch of the game, and the White Sox southpaw allowed a Jason Castro double leading off the third and nothing more over seven innings, striking out four and walking two. He retired the final 15 hitters faced.
But the difference on this occasion vs. other strong outings during the rough stretch was that the White Sox scored some runs for Quintana, who owned a Major League-worst 1.37 run support average since May 14. The White Sox took the lead with two in the third and added on with two in the eighth.
"Our guys are pitching well, but you're opportunistic where you're getting some runs," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You feel like you leave a few out there, and even during the rough stretch, we were leaving a lot of guys on third base. Today, we were able to knock a few in."
"Good reaction," a still smiling Quintana said when asked how he felt about the White Sox add-ons. "More runs. Sometimes I wait for them. Today, the lineup made a good effort."
One problem spot for Quintana came in the third, when he walked Springer after Castro's double. Marwin Gonzalez, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were next in line, but Quintana kept the lead at 2-1 by striking out Gonzalez and retiring Altuve and Correa on flyouts.
His goal, at that point, was simple: Get the first out and try to keep the runners on base and the double play in order. Quintana hit that goal and then some.
"I am very happy for him because he is such a fighter," said White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "He comes every day to give us the best that he has. In the last outings, we weren't able to support him and give him some runs. We did it today."
"Happy flight," Abreu added in English.
Quintana also unofficially backed up Abreu in the seventh, after Abreu took a little umbrage to Chris Devenski hitting him with a pitch, by throwing behind Evan Gattis in the bottom half and earning warnings for both benches. Astros manager A.J. Hinch was then ejected for complaining about Quintana's throw.
Quintana and Ventura said that he missed inside. That spot stood as one of the few Quintana missed during his return to the win column.
"He's always the same mentally," Ventura said. "Even as difficult as it's been for him to get run support, he never wavers as far as his own confidence. He's one of the better pitchers in the league. If he gets run support, his record is obviously a lot different. Mentally, he's as tough as we've got."