CHICAGO -- The White Sox march through mediocrity continues.
But could their modest record become good enough for a playoff berth?
The Sox have not given up hope of reaching the postseason with more than two months left in the season.
"I think still, for sure, we should be thinking about (the playoffs)," retiring veteran Paul Konerko said before Saturday night's 4-3 victory over the Astros at U.S. Cellular Field.
"We have these two extra (wild-card) spots ... you never know. I don't even know where we're at. I know we're not a bad team, I know we're also not in the conversation with the really good ones, either. We've been kind of up and down, but I don't think we're a bad team."
Sox manager Robin Ventura summoned Hector Noesi (4-7, 5.21) against the Astros' left-hander Dallas Keuchel before a crowd of 28,210. Noesi went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits for the victory.
"I am getting prepared for the second half to be tough," Noesi said. "So I am being aggressive every time I go to home plate."
Ronald Bellisario pitched two innings of scoreless relief after Javy Guerra had given up two hits in the seventh. Then Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam combined for a scoreless ninth with Putnam collecting his third save with a game-ending strikeout of Jason Castro.
"For me, it was just a better matchup," Ventura said of the decision to have Putnam face Castro. "Again, you don't really have that clear-cut closer. I like Putnam's swing-and-miss ability with some lefties and that's the reason."
The Sox collected 13 hits, including three each from Adam Eaton and Tyler Flowers.
Ventura is loathe to predict where his team will wind up by the end of this season.
"Right now we go game-to-game," Ventura said. "We have put ourselves in enough of a hole. ... These guys are trying to win every game and grind every at-bat. That's all you can ask. I am not going to sit here in July and start making statements that you're going to make the playoffs or you are not going to make the playoffs."
Konerko knows his team remains a work in progress, but perhaps is just good enough to extend his last year in uniform.
"There are still a lot of ballgames left and there are a lot of teams out there that are playoff contenders that don't have really perfect teams either," Konerko said. "... There might be a couple out there that really have everything you need, but the rest of them, you could find things wrong with all of them if you look hard enough."
The Sox are 5-1 in their last six games at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Maybe in another few weeks guys really come on in their own personal thing and the next thing you know you're kind of a different-looking team because of the way guys grew," Konerko said. "That's what you're shooting for. You keep doing that and maybe ..."
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