By Associated Press - Sunday, May 18, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - Chicago White Sox lefty John Danks struggled to keep the Houston Astros in the park on Sunday.

Danks allowed three home runs - the most allowed in nine starts - in his shortest outing of the season, and the White Sox fell to the Astros 8-2.

“I did a terrible job of keeping the ball in the ballpark, terrible job of getting in pitcher’s counts,” said Danks (3-4). “I didn’t make a pitch when I needed to.”

At the very least, it wasn’t the kind of effort the Austin native had envisioned putting on.

“This one stings a little bit,” Danks said. “I was excited coming in, pitching at home - had a lot of people here… It (stinks).”

Other than Adrian Nieto, who went 3 for 3 with two RBIs, Chicago struggled offensively against Astros right-hander Brad Peacock (1-4).

It was Chicago’s second straight loss and seventh in 10 games.

Chris Carter gave the Astros the lead with a solo shot in the second, and Matt Dominguez hit two-run homers in the third and fifth innings off Danks.

“(He) had a good day,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Dominguez, who had four RBIs.

“He can hit. He has a lot of power. Anytime you put it in there, in his happy zone, he can get rid of it.”

Ventura’s assessment went to the reason for Danks’ struggles at Minute Maid Park.

“Any time you get the ball up, especially in this ballpark, you’re going to create a lot of problems,” Ventura said.

Danks - who entered the game having allowed five homers, four of them in May - was done after just 4 2-3 innings.

He allowed eight runs, including seven earned, and 10 hits. He struck out seven, walked three and hit Carlos Corporan.

“Early on, obviously, the changeup was good, but I made an adjustment,” Danks said. “I think it was (Jesus) Guzman had very good at-bat against my changeup, took a good swing, and I kind of sensed that they were starting to sit on that.

“So I tried to change my game plan a little bit, and that backfired on me.”

Danks gave up at least one homer for his fourth consecutive start and fell to 1-3 in that stretch after allowing just one homer through five starts in April, when he was 2-1.

“He’s pitched well. Everyone’s going to have bumps in the road like this,” Ventura said. “But you need him to keep the ball down, especially the way he pitches. Walks and things like that, you have to eliminate them.”

Backed by early run support, Peacock (1-4) earned his first win of the season, allowing two runs and five hits and four walks, while striking out five in 6 2-3 innings.

Nieto put the White Sox on the board with an RBI single to center in the third inning. He connected off Peacock again for an RBI double with two outs in the seventh.

After Carter’s homer in the second inning, Jonathan Villar sparked a rally with a two-RBI single that scored Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes. Guzman advanced to second on a throwing error by left fielder Alejandro De Aza then stole third and scored when Nieto’s attempt to throw him out skipped into the outfield.

Danks got little in the way of run support. The White Sox were without first baseman Jose Abreu, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with ankle tendinitis, and the middle of the order went 0 for 12 against Peacock and the rest of the Astros.

“Right now we’re looking a lot different than we did a week ago - guys we have in there, how we’re swinging,” Ventura said. “You take somebody like Abreu out of there, and it looks different.

“And it needs to pick up, because he’s not going to be here for a couple of weeks.”

Notes: The Astros improved to 12-3 when hitting two or more home runs. … Despite having the worst record in the AL at 16-28, the Astros are 15-11 when hitting home runs and 1-17 when they fail to hit at least one home run. … Villar left the game in the seventh inning with a right hand injury.

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