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Astros look to continue ascent vs. reeling White Sox

CHICAGO -- The Houston Astros look to build upon the best record in the American League when they visit the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night to open a three-game series.

Houston (71-40) is coming off a series victory over the Toronto Blue Jays and boasts a major-league-best 38-15 record on the road. The Astros have scored more runs (656) and hit more home runs (182) than any other team in baseball this season.

Meanwhile, Chicago (41-68) is in a freefall in the first year of its long-term rebuilding project. The White Sox have lost six games in a row and have posted a miserable 3-19 record since the All-Star break.

Life will not get any easier for the White Sox as they face Houston's ace.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (9-1, 2.15 ERA) will try to notch his 10th victory in his 14th start of the season. Keuchel, who has reached double-digit victories on two occasions (2014, 2015), also is going for career win No. 60.

In two starts since coming off the disabled list after recovering from a neck ailment, Keuchel has shown signs of vulnerability. He allowed a total of six earned runs in eight innings (6.75 ERA) over the two outings, and he took his first loss of the season Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In five career starts against the White Sox, Keuchel is 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA. He has walked nine and struck out 30 in 33 2/3 innings.

White Sox left-hander Derek Holland (5-11, 5.27 ERA) is scheduled to face the Astros in his 22nd start. The veteran started the season well but has struggled along with the rest of the team in recent months. He is 1-7 with an 8.65 ERA in 12 appearances (11 starts) since June 2, and he has lost each of his past five decisions.

Holland is familiar with Astros' hitters from his years in the AL West as a member of the Texas Rangers' rotation. In 13 starts against Houston, he is 5-3 with a 4.50 ERA. He has allowed an average of one home run per outing.

The Astros might welcome back injured outfielder George Springer, who has been on the 10-day disabled list because of discomfort in his left quadriceps. The team plans to determine before the Tuesday game whether he is ready to return. Springer is hitting .310 with 27 home runs and 66 RBI in 93 games.

"I've been doing everything you can think of (to rehab)," Springer said to the Houston Chronicle when asked about a possible return in Chicago. "There's a lot I have to continue to do, and we'll see what happens."

Meanwhile, the White Sox will wait and see whether third baseman/designated hitter Matt Davidson is ready to return. Davidson, who leads the team with 22 home runs, has missed five games in a row because of a bruised right wrist that he sustained when he was hit by a pitch from Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said his players should not put their heads down amid a long losing streak.

"We're playing some really good clubs," Renteria said to MLB.com. "We're going to go out there every single day to hopefully play clean baseball on every side of the ball, on the bases, in the field and with the stick. Hopefully we'll continue to play a little better baseball."

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