France dominates, Abreu gets warm welcome as Astros beat ChiSox
CHICAGO (AP) — J.P. France passed the time during the lengthy rain delay playing cards and taking a beating.
Once he stepped on the mound, he got the results he wanted. And he came away with his first major league win.
France pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning in his second outing, José Abreu got a warm reception in his return to Chicago and the Houston Astros beat the White Sox 5-1 on Friday night.
France took a beating at the card table from pitcher Matt Gage as the teams waited out more than a two-hour delay at the start. That actually left him with a good feeling.
France said he took a few beatings at cards from pitcher Austin Davis at Triple-A Sugar Land and always seemed to pitch well afterward.
“Every time I would play cards, he would destroy me,” he said. “But every time I would get destroyed, I would have a good outing. That’s what I told Gage. I said, ‘Look, you kicked my butt in this. But that means I’m gonna have a good outing. So this one’s on you.’”
The White Sox honored Abreu with a pregame video tribute, and he responded by popping out of the dugout and pumping his fist as the crowd cheered before jogging toward the clubhouse.
Kyle Tucker walked and scored in the fourth. He also got Houston’s first hit when he chased Chicago starter Michael Kopech (1-4) with an RBI double in the fifth, making it 2-1.
The Astros scored two more in the sixth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Martín Maldonado and Mauricio Dubón against Gregory Santos. Yordan Alvarez homered in his second straight game when he led off the ninth with a long drive to right.
France (1-0) was terrific again after throwing five scoreless innings against Seattle last week in his major league debut. The 28-year-old right-hander went 6 2/3 innings in this one, allowing just one run and one walk.
Teammates showered him with a cold mixture of “a lot of different stuff” that he thought included beer and soap after his first win.
“Is it nice to look at it as an individual thing? Yeah,” he said. “But at the same time, for me, the mindset I have is that OK, the win’s done and now I’m on to the next one.’”
Abreu, who won an MVP award and made three All-Star teams over nine seasons in Chicago before joining with the World Series champions last winter, was 1 for 5 with a single in the seventh. The Cuban slugger is batting .218 and still seeking his first homer after signing a $58.5 million, three-year contract.
Chicago’s Luis Robert hit a solo homer in the second. Kopech threw 94 pitches and just 48 strikes while setting a career high with six walks and hitting a batter. The White Sox lost again after dropping three of four at Kansas City.
“I thought he had good stuff,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “He was strong. On the offensive, side, we didn’t do much. Robert got a good pitch to hit, put it in the seats. That was it. We didn’t do much.”
Astros hitting coach Troy Snitker was ejected by plate umpire Mark Wegner in the top of the first inning.
Astros: Star Jose Altuve (broken right thumb) was set to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday. … Manager Dusty Baker said OF Michael Brantley will be shut down “for awhile” because of inflammation in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Brantley looked like he was close to returning after being sidelined all season. But the five-time All-Star remains out indefinitely. … OF Chas McCormick (back tightness) was out of the lineup for the third straight game. He missed 20 games before playing Monday against the Angels in Los Angeles.
White Sox: 3B Yoán Moncada returned to the lineup after being sidelined since April 9 because of lower back soreness. The switch-hitting Moncada said through an interpreter he feels “pretty normal” from the left side, though he’s still experiencing some discomfort from the right. Chicago optioned infielder Lenyn Sosa to Triple-A Charlotte and outrighted right-handed pitcher Alexander Colomé to the minor league club. … 2B Elvis Andrus was being evaluated after experiencing some discomfort in his oblique area on a swing.
White Sox ace Dylan Cease (2-2, 5.58 ERA) looks to end a string of rough starts, while RHP Brandon Bielak (0-1, 4.15) gets the ball for the Astros. Cease is 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA in his past four outings.
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