CHICAGO -- Friday's 8-3 victory for the visiting Astros before 22,452 at U.S. Cellular Field certainly wasn't the brightest moment of a solid 2012 White Sox campaign to date. Then again, it wasn't without a few positive notes.
Dayan Viciedo left the game after five innings with tightness in both hamstrings, which isn't exactly positive, but the left fielder said that he was healthy after the team's fourth loss in six games and could play Saturday. And Jordan Danks, called up from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Thursday's game against the Blue Jays, knocked out his first Major League hit with a single to left leading off the eighth as Viciedo's replacement.
Aside from those varying degrees of moderate good news, it was a pretty tough night for the White Sox (32-26).
Gavin Floyd (4-6) took the loss, falling to 1-3 with a 10.17 ERA over his last five starts, after allowing four runs on four hits over six innings. His night could be considered a qualified success, in that he matched a personal season high with nine strikeouts.
But the right-hander also gave up a leadoff homer to Brett Wallace in the second and Jed Lowrie's two-run shot in the fifth after a two-out walk to Jordan Schafer. Floyd has yielded 10 long balls in his last five starts, covering 25 2/3 innings.
Warm weather leads to the ball carrying quite well at U.S. Cellular, but Floyd won't use humidity as an excuse.
"You've just got to make better pitches," said Floyd, who threw 55 of his 85 pitches for strikes and walked just two. "You've got to keep that in mind and know the ball does fly out of there. But I'm not going to try to be less aggressive."
"It's location," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Floyd's elevated homer total. "Maybe the count, you fall behind. You give a guy the ability to sit on it and go after a fastball and it's going to happen. It's just his location needs to be better when they're in hitters counts."
Aside from those home runs, Floyd felt as good as he in his last five trips to the mound.
"Today was a big step for me because I felt great," Floyd said. "I just felt like I was going out there and having fun and attacking the mitt.
"Yeah, we lost today, and that's always a downer. I'm trying to take the positives. I felt good. Just kind of continue on, work on it, keep on battling and look six days from now."
On paper, the White Sox looked as if they should have won this game. They outhit the Astros (25-33) by a 12-8 margin and had viable scoring chances in the third, fourth and seventh innings.
Those in-game numbers still added up to the White Sox first Interleague loss in four games and a 53-23 Interleague mark since 2008.
Adam Dunn drove in one run with a groundout in the fifth against Wandy Rodriguez (5-4), and the White Sox scored two more in the sixth on back-to-back doubles from Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez's infield single one out later. But this loss was more about missed opportunities for the American League Central leaders.
In the third, the White Sox loaded the bases with two outs only to have Paul Konerko ground out to Houston shortstop Lowrie. A bare-hand pick up by third baseman Chris Johnson and a perfect throw to first robbed Orlando Hudson of an infield single in the fourth, leaving runners on first and second.
Rodriguez was on the mound for both of those escape acts, exiting at 5 1/3 innings, with three runs allowed on nine hits.
"He was managing the game," said Ventura of Rodriguez. "When we got guys on, he found a way to throw that better pitch, keep us off balance and not let us get anything. We had guys on and we kept getting that rally with two outs. He was able to withstand that."
"I was working hard today, because in that situation, two outs, bases loaded, all you can do is make quality pitches [to] the hitter," said Rodriguez, referring to the third against Konerko. "That's what I did today."
With Dunn on third and Rios on second after he doubled in the seventh, Pierzynski grounded out to Lowrie against left-handed reliever Wesley Wright to end the frame. Pierzynski leads the Majors with his .431 average with runners in scoring position, but had a rare miss on this occasion.
Houston put the game away via a three-run, ninth-inning homer from left-handed-hitting Brian Bogusevic, who attended nearby De La Salle High School, off of left-handed reliever Will Ohman. That Bogusevic 431-foot blast was the fifth allowed by Ohman in 20 2/3 innings.
Another Astros run scored in the seventh, when Justin Maxwell raced home from third after Jose Altuve intentionally got himself picked off first. Ramirez, who committed an error on Altuve's grounder to put runners at first and third with one out, tagged Altuve but threw home late to nail Maxwell.
"We've just got to be more heads-up and be able to see him take off," Ventura said. "We were sloppy defensively. We're going to get better."
Ventura's statement came with the confidence of a man running a first-place team. And the White Sox still sit atop the division, albeit by one-half game over Cleveland. So a rough night for the White Sox was not a total loss.