- Associated Press - Friday, July 1, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - A veteran of 10 major league seasons, Carlos Gomez insists he didn’t panic when he got off to a slow start to begin this year.

However, he’s certainly feeling a lot better now that he’s started to turn things around.

Gomez hit a two-run homer and Mike Fiers and three relievers combined for a shutout to help the surging Houston Astros to a 5-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.

Gomez has started heating up after a tough start to the season that included a May when he hit just .136. He has hit four homers, five doubles and driven in 15 runs since June 5 to boost his average from .182 to .225.

“That makes you better,” Gomez said of fighting through his struggles. “You have to continue to do your job. When you do this for 10 years that’s because you’re a pro. The only thing you can do is continue to believe in yourself and work hard.”

It was Houston’s fourth straight victory and 11th in the last 12 games.

Fiers (6-3) scattered four hits over six innings. Ken Giles and Luke Gregerson didn’t allow a hit in an inning each and Chris Devenski threw a scoreless ninth.

The Astros didn’t have a baserunner until Miguel Gonzalez (1-4) plunked George Springer to start the fourth inning. He then walked Luis Valbuena before Jose Altuve grounded into a double play that left Springer at third.

Houston’s first hit came next when Carlos Correa’s strange infield popup dropped in front of shortstop Tim Anderson and allowed Springer to score and make it 1-0.

“It was a lucky base hit. I’ll take it,” Correa said. “Obviously throughout the season we hit a lot of balls hard right at people so it’s good to every once and awhile get a hit like that. It wasn’t the best at-bat but it worked out.”

Gonzalez lamented that no one was able to get to it before it dropped.

“Looking back on it for the future, someone’s just got to go all out for it,” he said. “It’s just such a tough play and you almost never see it. It was really tough because it cost us a run, but it won’t happen again. We’ll make that play.”

Gomez padded the lead when he sent one into the seats in left field with one out in the seventh to make it 3-0. Correa reached on an error by third baseman Tyler Saladino before Gomez’s shot.

Gonzalez yielded three hits and two runs in a season-high seven innings.

Houston first baseman A.J. Reed got his first major league hit with a single with two outs in the fifth inning. He was 0 for 16 since being called up on Saturday before the hit.

“Kind of a weight lifted off your shoulders and now I don’t have to come to the ballpark and think ‘Today’s the day,’” he said. “So go out and relax and have fun.”

Valbuena added an RBI double in the eighth and Colby Rasmus had a run-scoring single in that inning to make it 5-0.

ALTUVE’S STREAK ENDS

Altuve went 0 for 4 without a walk to end a streak where he reached safely in a career-high 32 straight games. The streak was the longest by an Astro since Lance Berkman did it in 37 straight games from July 30-Sept. 8, 2004.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: 3B Matt Davidson had surgery on Friday after breaking his right foot rounding first base in his White Sox debut a day before. Davidson had a screw inserted to repair his foot and the White Sox don’t know how long he’ll be out. They recalled INF Carlos Sanchez from Triple-A Charlotte before Friday’s game to take his spot on the roster.

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers, who was scratched from his last start on Tuesday with a blister on his right index finger, is doing better and is expected to make his next start on Monday.

UP NEXT

White Sox: Chris Sale (13-2, 2.79) is scheduled to pitch for Chicago on Saturday. Sale, who leads the majors with 13 wins, has a four-game winning streak. Sale is 4-1 with a 0.66 ERA and 56 strikeouts in five career starts against Houston.

Astros: Doug Fister (8-4, 3.36) will start for Houston on Saturday. Fister allowed eight hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings of a loss to the Royals on Sunday to snap a seven-game winning streak.

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