The White Sox turned their second triple play of the season on Wednesday night.
It arrived about four innings too late to bail out Mat Latos.
Latos had a fourth straight rough start and the Houston Astros sent the White Sox to their fourth consecutive loss as they dropped a 5-3 decision in front of 14,936 at U.S. Cellular Field. Though he earned only his first loss of the season, Latos, who yielded a pair of solo homers and 11 hits, has a 7.84 ERA in his last four starts. The White Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games and their lead in the American League Central is down to 2.5 games.
“Some days you feel really good and you have a line like you have today and other days you feel like crap and have a really good line,” Latos said. “It sucks and I’m really over it and tired of giving up runs. But you’ve just got to hang with ‘em and keep going.”
The eighth-inning triple play -- which reliever Dan Jennings induced off the bat of George Springer -- arrived to late for the White Sox.
From a mechanical standpoint, Latos, who has seen his earned-run average rise from 0.74 to 4.00 in his last four turns, said Wednesday is the best he has felt in several turns. Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed, noting Latos kept the ball down better than he has of late.
The backstop had plenty of weak contact generated in the first few innings to back their assessment. But two walks mixed in with a bunch of bloopers and bleeders had the Astros frustrating Latos in the early innings before they pounded him late.
Jose Altuve singled in the first and George Springer walked ahead of a rocket RBI single by Carlos Correa to make it 1-0. An inning later, Altuve’s RBI groundout made it a 2-1 game.
Altuve also had an RBI in the fourth inning, a frame in which no ball was hit harder than Tony Kemp’s bloop single to left.
But Houston hit Latos hard the next two innings as Colby Rasmus and Jason Castro hit long home runs in the fifth and sixth innings to go ahead 5-1.
Latos allowed five earned runs and walked two in 5.1 innings. He struck out three.
“There was just a little bit of everything,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You had some that fell in, weren't hit very hard, just seemed to drop in there. And then ultimately it was the homer that ends up getting you and the two runs you'd like to have back.”
Leading 5-3, the Astros appeared to be headed for some insurance runs as Jennings walked the first two batters he faced. But Springer hit it directly to Todd Frazier, who hopped on third base and fired to second baseman Brett Lawrie, who completed the relay to first for the third out.
The White Sox also turned a triple play on April 22 against the Texas Rangers. It’s the first time they’ve turned two triple plays in a season since 2006. They’re the first team to turn two in a single season since the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007.
But the deficit was too much for the White Sox to overcome.
The White Sox offense also had its chances against Doug Fister and Co. but never broke through for the big inning.
Jose Abreu singled in a run in the first to tie the game. But Fister got on a roll and retired nine in a row. Navarro singled in the fifth and Adam Eaton doubled him to third. But Rasmus tracked down Jimmy Rollins’ drive near the warning track in center for the final out.
The White Sox scored a run in the sixth on an RBI triple by Melky Cabrera to get within three runs. But Fister struck out Lawrie and Avisail Garcia grounded out to limit the damage. Abreu singled in a run in the seventh inning to make it a 5-3 game. But Ken Giles got Frazier to fly out to center with the tying runs aboard.
“What are we gonna do?” Frazier said. “How are we gonna bounce back? We're still riding high, we're still in first place. They're creeping, but at the same time, we haven't really stepped into the division yet that much, so we'll go about our business.”