Chants of “Let’s go, White Sox” echoed through Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Chicago White Sox trailed by two but had runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth inning Monday against the Houston Astros.
Eloy Jiménez ripped a double down the left-field line, and both runners scored to tie the game.
Two walks, one intentional and one traditional, loaded the bases for Yoán Moncada. He hit the first pitch he saw to center for a go-ahead two-run single.
The eighth-inning magic — and Johnny Cueto’s pitching — propelled the Sox to a 4-2 victory in front of 18,205.
Cueto (5-5) allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits with three strikeouts and a walk in eight innings. The rally in the bottom of the eighth, all with two outs, put him in position for the win.
Liam Hendriks got Mauricio Dubón to pop out with two runners on for his 26th save as the Sox completed one of their best wins of the season.
“This win just confirms that we have a very good team,” Moncada said through an interpreter, “and we have to believe in that and the people around the team have to believe in that too.”
The Sox extended their winning streak to four and tied a season high by moving four games over .500 for the first time since they were 6-2 on April 16. The Sox (60-56) remained tied for second in the American League Central with the Minnesota Twins, but both teams picked up a half-game on the Cleveland Guardians and are two games back.
“We need every win and that was a good one,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “All these games are playoff games and we need to be prepared to compete.
“We have to forget where we are right now. We just have to keep playing hard and try to win every game. We don’t have to be looking at the standings right now. We have to play hard and see what will happen at the end.”
Cueto put the Sox in position with another stellar outing.
“You can’t faze him,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s very special. It’s fun to watch him. I’m glad especially our younger guys are watching him. They learn a lot about what you’ve got to do when you’re a starting pitcher to keep you in the game.”
After his last start Wednesday in Kansas City, Cueto said the team needed to “show the fire that we have — if we have any.” He saw it Monday.
“That’s what we need to do in every game, just try to compete and have the same energy level and excitement that we had (Monday),” he said.
The Astros scored twice in the first. Dubón singled and advanced to third when second baseman Josh Harrison couldn’t field Yuli Gurriel’s grounder.
Dubon scored on Yordan Alvarez’s sacrifice fly to center. Gurriel scored from first on Alex Bregman’s double.
“I just kept my focus,” Cueto said. “It wasn’t a good start for us, but it wasn’t (Harrison’s) fault too. After that error, I said, ‘(Bleep) it, let’s keep competing,’ and I was able to get out of that inning with two runs.”
He worked out of a couple of jams, including the sixth when the Astros had runners on first and second with one out. Cueto got Jake Meyers to hit a chopper to third. Moncada stepped on the bag and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
Cueto pumped his fist after striking out Kyle Tucker to wrap up his outing with a 1-2-3 eighth.
The Sox stayed two down because of the strong pitching of Astros starter José Urquidy. He exited after AJ Pollock reached on an infield hit with two outs in the eighth. All six hits Urquidy allowed were singles.
Pollock’s hit got the ball rolling for the Sox. Andrew Vaughn doubled against reliever Rafael Montero, and Jiménez followed with his game-tying double on an 0-2 pitch.
“I was trying to look for a good pitch to hit,” Jiménez said. “That wasn’t a good pitch to hit, but I thank God I still had the ability to keep that ball fair.”
José Abreu took two balls before being intentionally walked, and Yasmani Grandal worked the count full before drawing a walk to load the bases for Moncada.
“I went out there just looking for fastballs,” Moncada said. “I wasn’t looking for anything else. Just fast balls. He threw me a fastball and I was able to put the barrel on the ball.”
The liner fell in front of Meyers in center field and scored two runs, putting the Sox in position to win the thriller.
“We were able to keep our focus all the way through,” Moncada said. “That eighth inning, it was a big inning for us.
“Like everybody said, the game doesn’t end until the end. We kept battling and we kept chipping away and grinding.”