Swept in Chicago, Astros amid rare skid

Swept in Chicago, Astros amid rare skid

CHICAGO -- Manager A.J. Hinch and his Astros squad had yet to find themselves in a skid quite like this one this season.

The Astros, who hold a 13-game lead in the American League West and have the best record in the AL by a wide margin, lost, 3-2, in 11 innings to the White Sox on Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field, getting swept for just the second time this season.

Brad Peacock -- one of the rotation's best since the All-Star break -- allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings. However, his outing was spoiled by a Yoan Moncada solo homer with one out in the ninth off Astros closer Ken Giles. Two innings later, Moncada hit a walk-off single off Francis Martes.

"I threw a good pitch," Giles said of the 2-0 fastball, which Moncada drove 374 feet over the left-field wall, according to Statcast™. "I looked at the video, right on the outside corner where I wanted it, on the black. Got to tip my cap off to him. He put a good swing on it, and drove it the other way. Nothing I can do. Can't really be mad about it. Good pitch, good swing, hat's off to him."

Moncada's game-tying homer

The Astros are 11-14 since the All-Star break, losing 10 of their last 14.

"We're not in a great place right now," Hinch said. "We obviously had a tough trip to this city. We'll move on in the next city, and get ourselves together.

"We're getting beat up a little bit. We've got to figure out ourselves before we really worry about what kind of situation we're in. I think the mentality of our team is strong enough. Obviously, we get a chance to get a fresh start, new series. These games are taking a lot out of our guys, and we're getting beat up. But we'll figure it out. We've got a good group in there, and we're being tested."

The recent skid is unfamiliar territory for the Astros, who have been dominant. Their three-game losing streak matches a season high, and there are noticeable gaps that have manifested themselves through both injury and performance. Houston entered Thursday with the league's fifth-worst starter ERA (5.76) and third-worst bullpen ERA (5.13) since the All-Star break.

Even while still maintaining a large lead in the standings, there's a sense of urgency clamoring for a turnaround.

"It's frustrating, of course it's frustrating," Giles said. "We've had a lot of success early, and not a lot of bumps in the road. Right now, we're going through it, and we're trying to find ourselves again."

With series against the Rangers, their in-state rival, and the D-backs, a National League Wild Card contender, up next, a strong finish to the road trip could be just the jolt the Astros need.

"This is really one of the first tough stretches where we've had a couple weeks where we haven't really gotten the results that we want," Hinch said. "We'll turn it around. We'll do it because we have a really good team."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Astros on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.