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HOU@SEA: Norris strikes out six over seven strong

The Astros have a chance to sweep the White Sox on Monday in the first regular-season series between the two clubs at Minute Maid Park since Chicago swept Houston in the 2005 World Series. And while it won't make up for a loss in the Fall Classic, it would keep the streaky Astros' latest win streak going.

The Astros won seven of eight, lost seven of their next eight and have since won four in a row.

"Offense comes and goes," said Houston manager Bo Porter. "That's why pitching and defense have to be the constants that show up to the park every day and give you the best opportunity to win games. You understand that we can break out today and score 11 runs and come back the next and score two runs. It's going to come and go.

"We've just battled. The first night, they threw [Chris] Sale at us and we were able to manufacture some runs. [Saturday] we got the two big homers. Our starting pitching continues to do their job to a great extent in keeping us at an advantage in games. Then, the bullpen's coming in and holding the leads.

"Again, when you talk about winning series, it starts with starting pitching and that allows you to match up your bullpen. We've done that consistently to where it's more than a trend, it's our team."

On the mound Monday will be Bud Norris, who has been dominant at Minute Maid Park this season, going 3-2 with a 2.28 ERA in eight home starts. He's got a 2-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in those outings.

Norris has lasted six innings or more in his last five starts, contributing to the Astros' starting pitching surge over the last month. Houston starters have carried the team of late, posting a 3.03 ERA since May 15.

The White Sox have been trending in the opposite direction in June, as they're 4-10 for the month and have struggled to create consistent offensive production.

Manager Robin Ventura doesn't buy into the theory that one big game can turn the tide.

"Those are hard," Ventura said. "People point back to something toward the end of the year and will say one game was it. In this it's going to take a stretch of games, then you can point to one. It always has to be a stretch of games when you play well and get well."

On the mound for Chicago on Monday will be Jose Quintana, who has been a productive starter this season, compiling a 3.86 ERA over 77 innings.

Astros: Castro showing some power
Where did this come from?

Jason Castro had eight home runs in more than 500 Major League plate appearances entering this season. On Sunday, he hit his 10th homer in fewer than 250 plate appearances in 2013.

Castro had a power surge in May, hitting six homers in 25 games, and has continued that into June. The Astros' catcher turns 26 on Tuesday.

White Sox: Dunn doesn't care about batting average
Adam Dunn has hit five homers in his last seven games and raised his batting average from .156 to .183, but he couldn't care less about the average.

Dunn, who has a career .238 average but gets on base at a .367 clip, has hit 424 homers in his career, 47th all time.

"What bothers me is when I'm not getting on base at .350 or .380 or close to a .400 clip. Then I'm not doing what I normally do, what I need to do," Dunn said. "And again, I don't care if I'm hitting .200 or .150 as long as my on-base percentage is .350 to .400 and I'm scoring X amount of runs and driving in X amount of runs. That's to me what matters."

Worth noting
• Tyler Flowers got a vote of confidence from his manager Sunday, as Ventura said the young catcher is doing a great job defensively. "But the quality of at-bats has gotten better for me," Ventura said. "And that's something we look at too."

• White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza was 2-for-5 with a homer Sunday and is hitting .345 (19-for-55) in June.

• Astros reliever Jose Cisnero pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning Sunday and has gone 1-0 with an 0.50 ERA in his last seven outings, with 20 strikeouts. Comments