Carlos Rodon stymies Astros as White Sox move 20 games above .500

Carlos Rodon keeps rising to new heights.

So do the White Sox.

In his first start following the all-star break, Rodon struck out 10 and allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings to lead the Sox to a 4-0 win Sunday over the Astros. After losing their first five this year to Houston, the Sox have won two straight against a team they may have to beat in October.

Though there’s still over two months left in the season, it was important for the Sox to see some success against AL West-leading Houston. They did that, winning the series despite dropping Friday’s opener.

“I think we needed this,” Rodon said. “We needed to take this series and prove that we can beat them and that we are just as good as them. I think that will lead into the season and the rest of the second half. Something we can build off.”

The Sox also improved to 20 above .500 for the first time this year and the first time since Aug. 26, 2008.

Forced to win a spring-training battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, Rodon has been a big part of that success, earning his first all-star selection. Sunday was his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the year, and he set the team record with his 10th consecutive game with eight or more strikeouts, passing Juan Pizarro’s mark set in 1951.

Rodon was supported by a home run from Tim Anderson, which gave him a hit in 15 straight games to match a personal best. Anderson also recorded a hit and a run in his 11th consecutive contest, breaking Adam Eaton’s 2015 team record. Yoan Moncada hit his first homer since June 3, while Danny Mendick and Adam Engel had run-scoring singles.

But Rodon set the tone.

“The thing we all noticed, from the first pitch to the first hitter, he was coming at it with his best stuff, very aggressive,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “You could tell he had respect for that team because he was coming out there ready to pitch. He maintained it for seven.”

Rodon picked up where Lucas Giolito left off with his complete-game win Saturday. Over the last two games, Sox starters have thrown 16 innings and given up one run and four hits.

Combined with perfect innings by relievers Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks, the Sox only allowed one baserunner when Abraham Toro singled off Rodon with one out in the third.

“Obviously Lucas really set the tone for us last night, kind of changing the tone and turning that corner,” Kopech said. “To get a win against those guys is obviously huge, and to go a complete game is even more impressive. And so I think we all kind of took that energy into today. I know Carlos did, does what he does every outing, went out there and dominated. And that was a lot of fun to see.”

Even with the rash of injuries, things have generally been a lot of fun for the Sox this season. They’ve raced way ahead of the rest of the AL Central and are on track for their first division title since 2008.

However, to accomplish what they really want to accomplish, they’ll have to beat teams like Houston more routinely. This weekend – boosted by two cornerstones of their rotation – could be a start for the Sox.

“They are a very good team. That’s a team we’ll probably see in the playoffs,” Rodon said. “They are tough top to bottom and it builds confidence when you have a start like that. You just keep going.”

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