CHICAGO — Lance McCullers Jr. pitched seven sparkling innings, and the Houston Astros beat the Chicago White Sox 7-1 on Friday night in the opener of a weekend series between AL division leaders.
Michael Brantley homered and Myles Straw drove in three runs as the Astros improved to a big league-best 43-22 against teams with a .500 or better record — including a 5-0 mark against the White Sox. Yuli Gurriel added three hits and two RBIs.
McCullers (7-2) surrendered hits on each of his first two pitches: a leadoff triple for Tim Anderson that extended his hitting streak to 13 games, and an RBI double for Yoán Moncada. But that was it for Chicago against the right-hander, who struck out 10 and walked two.
The White Sox won five in a row before the All-Star break, closing out a 6-3 road trip. But they were outplayed again by the Astros, who rolled to a four-game sweep in their first meeting of the season last month in Houston.
While the Astros have played well against baseball’s best teams, the White Sox dropped to 16-25 against opponents that currently have a .500 or better record.
Dylan Cease (7-5) struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings for Chicago. The right-hander permitted three runs and six hits in his first loss in nine home starts this season.
Cease caught a bad break when Anderson looked to second on Jose Altuve’s two-out grounder to shortstop with a runner on first in the third. Second baseman Leury García wasn’t on the bag and Altuve was credited with an infield single.
After Brantley was hit by a pitch, Gurriel lined a two-run double into right field.
Brantley added a two-out solo drive in the fifth, and the Astros broke it open with four more two-out runs in the seventh. Straw had the big blow, a three-run double to right that made it 7-1.
The White Sox reinstated reliever Aaron Bummer from the 10-day injured list and recalled right-hander Reynaldo López from Triple-A Charlotte. They also optioned relievers Matt Foster and Jace Fry to their top farm club.
Bummer, who had been sidelined by a strained right hamstring, recorded two outs in the seventh and was charged with four runs. López worked two scoreless innings.
Astros: All-Star SS Carlos Correa was activated from the injured list. Correa was placed on the IL last week due to health and safety protocols. … RHP Austin Pruitt was activated from the 60-day IL. Pruitt was acquired in a January 2020 trade with Tampa Bay, but he missed last season with an elbow injury. … Manager Dusty Baker said 3B Alex Bregman (strained left quadriceps) is progressing and could start a minor league rehabilitation stint soon. … RHP Josh James (hip surgery) got two outs in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Sugar Land.
White Sox: INF/OF Jake Lamb (strained right quadriceps) was sent to Triple-A Charlotte to begin a rehab assignment.
Right-handers Jake Odorizzi (3-4, 3.61 ERA) and Lucas Giolito (7-6, 4.15) pitch on Saturday night. Odorizzi is 2-1 with a 1.04 ERA over his last five appearances for Houston. Giolito struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings in Chicago’s 8-3 win at Baltimore last Saturday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap