White Sox-Royals Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- While the Chicago White Sox have a slight lead in the AL Central, they continue to struggle against the Kansas City Royals.
The White Sox will try to avoid a fourth straight loss to the host Royals on Saturday night when the teams play the middle contest of a weekend set.
Chicago fell to 4-6 against Kansas City this year after a 4-2 defeat Friday, when Salvador Perez's two-run double in the seventh inning proved decisive.
Paul Konerko, who returned after missing the previous eight games with a mild concussion, homered for Chicago.
"When you take nine or ten days off it seems like a month, but I felt good," he said.
The White Sox (65-53), who had won three straight overall entering this series, are averaging 2.9 runs in the season series against the Royals (52-66), totaling five runs in the last three games between the clubs. They haven't dropped four in a row to Kansas City since 2009.
With Friday's loss, Chicago's division lead dwindled to 1 1/2 games over second-place Detroit.
The White Sox should like their chances Saturday with Jake Peavy (9-8, 3.04 ERA) on the mound, but they'll need to give him better support.
The right-hander is 3-7 in his last 11 starts. He's allowed three runs or fewer in eight of those games, but Chicago has scored an average of 2.9 runs for him over that stretch.
"For one reason or another, we don't seem to score too much for him," manager Robin Ventura said. "He always goes out there knowing each pitch can cost him. We need to do a better job of giving him more room to pitch with."
Peavy gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings of Monday's 11-inning, 3-2 loss at Toronto. In his previous outing, he lost to Kansas City on Aug. 7 after allowing three runs in 6 2-3 innings.
Peavy has dropped five straight decisions over six starts against the Royals while recording a 5.63 ERA. At Kauffman Stadium on July 14, he allowed six runs and 12 hits - two homers - in seven innings of a 6-3 loss.
Royals slugger Billy Butler is 10 for 25 with three homers against Peavy. Butler homered Friday, extending his home hitting streak against the White Sox to 15 games. He's batting .361 during that stretch and has three homers in the last four overall meetings between these teams.
The Royals are 10-6 in August after going 7-19 in July.
On Saturday, they'll turn to Bruce Chen (8-10, 5.56), who is 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in his last eight outings against the White Sox.
Although Chicago tagged him for six runs and three homers in 4 2-3 innings in July, the left-hander held the White Sox to two runs over 6 2-3 innings of the Aug. 7 victory opposite Peavy.
Chen wasn't as sharp against Baltimore on Sunday, allowing four runs and four hits, including two homers, in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss.
Royals second baseman Chris Getz suffered a broken left thumb Friday and will miss the rest of the season. To take his spot, Kansas City called up Johnny Giavotella, who hit .217 in 21 games in his last recall.
Updated August 18, 2012