White Sox-Rays Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- An offensive surge has propelled the Chicago White Sox to their longest winning streak of the season.
A solid start from Chris Sale helped the club begin its run.
Looking for a sixth consecutive victory, Sale and the White Sox face a stiff challenge Monday in the opener of a three-game road set against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Chicago (26-12) has totaled 52 runs and 64 hits during its five-game winning streak. The White Sox have scored at least 10 runs in three of their last four games, including a 12-6 victory over Cleveland on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep. Paul Konerko hit his 400th homer in a White Sox uniform to help them move within one-half game of the Indians for the AL Central lead.
The White Sox have homered in 13 straight games for the first time since 2006, and are batting .309 with 23 home runs during a 9-1 stretch.
"Its a nice roll," Konerko told the team's official website. "We've got to try to roll this out as best we can."
Konerko has been remarkable all season, batting a major league-leading .399 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs. He's batting .565 (26 for 46) with five homers and 15 RBIs during a 13-game hitting streak that was interrupted when he missed two games after being hit in the face with a pitch against the Cubs on May 18.
"He's figured something out," teammate Gordon Beckham said. "It's fun to run out on the field every day with him, that's for sure."
Konerko is batting .432 with two homers and seven RBIs in his last 10 games versus Tampa Bay.
Sale (5-2. 2.50 ERA) has allowed one run and seven hits while striking out 13 over 12 1-3 innings to win his last two starts. The left-hander gave up two hits in seven innings of a 6-0 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday to begin Chicago's current winning streak.
"Part of pitching is finding a groove and rolling with it," said Sale, who will be making his first start against the Rays. He's made two relief appearances against them, allowing one run in 2 1-3 innings.
Tampa Bay (29-19) has won three of four and moved into a tie with Baltimore atop the AL East after rallying for a 4-3 victory at Boston on Sunday. One day after Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-run homer in the ninth inning sent the Rays to a 3-2 loss, Sean Rodriguez did the same in the ninth to beat the Red Sox.
Rodriguez and Matt Joyce each had two hits for Tampa Bay. Joyce is 5 for 10 in the his three games after going 1 for 14 over his previous six. He's also batting .471 (8 for 17) in his last five games against the White Sox.
Making his first appearance against Chicago, Matt Moore (1-4, 5.07), is 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA in four starts since beating Seattle on May 1. The left-hander allowed four runs - two earned - and walked four in 4 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 8-5 victory over Toronto.
"His stuff was really, really good again," manager Joe Maddon told the Rays' official website. "I just think he started to speed up a little bit after we got the big lead. As opposed to just going out and attacking the strike zone. He will. He will be able to eventually do that.
"But again, I have a lot of patience for young left-handers with that kind of arm."
Updated May 27, 2012