HOUSTON — Two weeks ago, Chris Volstad was hanging out at home. His Triple-A season was finished, and for the second straight year, the Chicago White Sox hadn’t needed him at all in the major leagues.
"It’s kind of crazy how things can change in about two weeks," he said.
Finally back in the big leagues, the 30-year-old Volstad got his first victory since 2012 on Thursday night, leading a group of seven relievers that covered 8 2/3 innings as Chicago beat the Houston Astros 3-1.
Volstad (1-0) entered after starter Carson Fulmer was pulled with a blister on his right index finger. Volstad allowed a run over 4 1/3 innings, and six more relievers kept Houston scoreless from there. Juan Minaya worked around two walks in the ninth for his fifth save.
Volstad hadn’t appeared in the majors since 2015 before Chicago purchased his contract Sept. 10. His previous win was on Sept. 10, 2012, when the Cubs beat Dallas Keuchel and the Astros 4-1. Keuchel also took the loss Thursday.
Volstad had to be reminded that his last win was in Houston.
"Was it really? Well there you go," he said shaking his head. "That’s pretty cool, actually. Nice."
Manager Rick Renteria raved about Volstad.
"The opportunity opened up and since he’s been here, he’s shown us that he’s capable again of pitching in the big leagues," Renteria said. "He’s been around, he’s got experience and he continues to improve. So we’re very happy that he’s here."
Tim Anderson homered to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games, and Kevan Smith added two hits for Chicago.
The victory snapped a six-game winning streak for the Astros, who clinched the AL West on Sunday but are still making a push for the league’s best record.
"All in all, you just have nights like this where you face a couple of different pitchers, and they make pitches, and it ends up not being your night," manager A.J. Hinch said.
Chicago built a 2-0 lead against Keuchel (13-5) by the third inning. Brian McCann got Houston within 1 on a solo homer in the bottom of the inning.
Anderson launched a towering shot to centre to begin the eighth inning. He is batting .426 with two homers, three doubles and six RBIs during this streak.
Fulmer walked two before leaving because of the blister. Volstad took over and allowed three hits while striking out two. It was the longest relief outing of his career and lowered his ERA to 1.08. Volstad had mostly pitched in Triple-A since making 21 starts with the Cubs in 2012.
Avisail Garcia and Smith hit consecutive singles with one out in the second before a two-out single by Willy Garcia loaded the bases. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead when Rymer Liriano walked, but Keuchel struck out the next two batters to limit the damage.
Yoan Moncada walked to start the third before a double by Jose Abreu. Garcia drew a walk to load the bases, and Moncada scored when Smith grounded into a double play to make it 2-0.
McCann sent Volstad’s first pitch of the third inning into the second deck in right field to cut the lead to 2-1.
Keuchel faced the minimum over his last three innings, retiring seven in a row and then getting a double play to end the sixth after a single by Smith with one out in the inning. The left-hander yielded five hits and two runs while walking three in six innings.
White Sox: DH Matt Davidson was out of the lineup with a low-grade fever.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers could start Sunday after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday. McCullers hasn’t pitched since he was scratched from his scheduled start on Sept. 13 because of arm fatigue. "Obviously the hope is that he’s going to be able to make a start soon but we have a couple of days to decide," manager A.J. Hinch said.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE
The last time Houston lost a game where the opposing starter recorded one out or less came on July 15, 1994 against the Pirates. Left-hander Denny Neagle got just one out in an 11-8 victory by the Pirates.
White Sox: Reynaldo Lopez (2-3, 4.84 ERA) will start for Chicago in the opener of a three-game series against Kansas City on Friday. Lopez allowed seven hits and four runs in seven innings of a win over Detroit in his last start.
Astros: Justin Verlander (13-8, 3.50) is scheduled to start for Houston in the first of three games against the Angels on Friday. Verlander is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and 26 strikeouts in three starts since being traded from the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 31.