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White Sox rebound against Astros in possible playoff preview

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In a matchup between two of the American League’s top teams, Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodón helped the Chicago White Sox fight back against Houston’s powerful offense.

Giolito pitched a three-hitter in Chicago’s 10-1 victory Saturday, then Rodón allowed one hit in seven innings Sunday as the White Sox blanked Houston 4-0. Those two victories came after the Astros swept a four-game series against the White Sox last month and beat Chicago 7-1 on Friday night.

The White Sox (56-36) now have the best record in the American League, and they lead the AL Central by eight games. Houston (56-38) has a 3 1/2-game advantage atop the AL West. The Astros lead the major leagues in runs despite Alex Bregman’s injury problems and George Springer’s offseason departure.

Houston finished the 2020 regular season with a sub-.500 record but still came within a victory of reaching the World Series thanks to the expanded playoffs. The Astros again look formidable this year.

If they face Chicago in the playoffs, that matchup would pit Houston’s Dusty Baker against Tony La Russa of the White Sox in a matchup of two of the most famous managers of this era — and this weekend, Chicago certainly showed it has the pitching to compete.

NEVER A DULL MOMENT

A week in the life of the New York Mets:

Monday — Slugger Pete Alonso wins the Home Run Derby.

Friday — Star shortstop Francisco Lindor leaves the game against Pittsburgh with soreness on his right side. New York loses 4-1 in a game that includes a bench-clearing incident.

Saturday — Lindor goes on the injured list. Ace Jacob deGrom’s status is also up in the air because of forearm tightness. The Mets take a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth before Pittsburgh scores five runs to make a game of it. It’s 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth when New York closer Edwin Diaz allows a game-winning grand slam by Jacob Stallings that gives the Pirates a 9-7 victory.

Sunday — Manager Luis Rojas says deGrom is going on the IL. In the first inning against Pittsburgh, the Mets allow three runs to score on an infield dribbler because pitcher Taijuan Walker, thinking the ball was foul, batted it toward the Pirates dugout. The ball was called fair, and Rojas is ejected in the ensuing argument. New York trails 6-0 at the end of the inning, then chips away at the deficit until Michael Conforto’s two-run homer in the ninth gives the Mets a 7-6 win.

New York still leads the NL East by two games, and one can only imagine what these next couple months have in store for the Mets.

TRIVIA TIME

The Astros (plus 129) and White Sox (plus 124) rank first and second in the AL in run differential. Who is No. 3?

BUYERS

While the Mets were taking their fans on a roller coaster ride, division rival Atlanta was trying to overcome its injury woes via the trade market. The Braves acquired Joc Pederson from the Chicago Cubs and Stephen Vogt from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Atlanta recently lost Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending knee injury, but the Braves aren’t giving up. They trail the Mets by four games.

TRIVIA ANSWER

The Toronto Blue Jays (plus 95) have the third-best run differential in the AL. They came out of the All-Star break in impressive fashion, beating Texas three times by a combined score of 25-2. Toronto is still in the third place in the AL East, however, six games behind division-leading Boston.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

By NOAH TRISTER
AP Baseball Writer

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