Updated: July 18, 2014 11:36PM
No Chicago White Sox were more maligned than catcher Tyler Flowers and the team’s bullpen in the early months of the season.
So when they flipped the script Friday night, they could only hope it was the sign of better things to come.
Flowers, who entered with a .218 batting average, drove in the go-ahead run with a seventh-inning double, and four pitchers combined to retire the final 22 batters in the White Sox’s 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros.
“Yeah, it’s a good time,” Flower said. “I’ve been feeling better for the last 10 games maybe. I haven’t had a whole lot of success statistically, but I’ve been seeing the ball a lot better.”
Alejandro De Aza singled off Scott Feldman and stole second before Flowers delivered the game-winning hit. He entered the game with only 12 hits in his last 116 at-bats.
“There were some good things that happened that you like to see coming out of the break.” manager Robin Ventura said.
Namely, the performances of Daniel Webb, Ronald Belisario and Zach Putnam, who were flawless out of the bullpen.
Webb (5-2) retired six consecutive batters in relief of Jose Quintana to earn the victory. Belisario and Putnam pitched a scoreless inning apiece, and Putnam earned his second save.
After Quintana allowed a pair of unearned runs, he set down his final 10 batters. The left-hander allowed three hits and two walks in five innings.
Houston didn’t have a baserunner after Jose Altuve singled with two outs in the second inning.
“Q did a great job. Webb and Bel did great jobs,” Putnam said. “We hit the ball and made some plays. It was a good way to get back in the second half.
“The four days (off) couldn’t have come at a better time. We recharged and just hit the ground running.”
Feldman (4-7) took a four-hit shutout into the sixth inning, when Dayan Viciedo hit a two-run homer into the left-center field bleachers to tie it. Three batters earlier, Feldman was struck on what he called the back “right cheek” by a smash off the bat of Alexei Ramirez, but said that had no effect on him.
Feldman allowed three runs, seven hits and three walks in seven innings.
“I just hung a curveball there, and Viciedo didn’t miss and put a good swing on it,” said Feldman, who figures to be the subject of trade talk this month. “More times than not, if you go deep in the game like that, our guys will come out on top.”
Aided by a two-base error, Houston took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. After Jon Singleton’s single eluded Viciedo in right field, Matt Dominguez scored from first base while Singleton continued to third. Robbie Grossman followed with an RBI groundout.
Adam Eaton tripled, and Jose Abreu doubled in the first inning, but Chicago failed to take an early lead. Grossman threw out Eaton at the plate on a shallow fly ball to right field, a call upheld by video replay after a White Sox challenge.
NOTES: Newest Chicago Bulls members Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic threw out first pitches. … White Sox LHP Chris Sale will make his first post-All-Star break appearance either Monday or Tuesday, which will give him at least 12 days of rest between starts. He pitched an inning in the All-Star game on Tuesday night. … After a week of instruction and workouts in Arizona, White Sox first-round draft pick Carlos Rodon will begin his professional career at high Class A Winston-Salem later this month. … The White Sox signed 31 of their 32 draft picks. The Astros came to terms with 26 of 31. … The Astros recalled RHP Jake Buchanan from Oklahoma City earlier Friday. RHP David Martinez was optioned to the Triple-A club.