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Friday, June 13 (All times Eastern)
Kansas City Royals (33-32) at Chicago White Sox (33-34), 8:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Kansas City - Jeremy Guthrie (2-6, 4.10) Chicago - Jose Quintana (3-6, 3.59)
(SportsNetwork.com) - A chance for divisional separation is at stake on Friday night when the Kansas City Royals visit the Chicago White Sox for the first of three weekend games at U.S. Cellular Field.
The teams are separated by only one game in a crowded American League Central Division, where the Royals stand a game above .500 and 2 1/2 games behind the front-running Detroit Tigers. Meanwhile, the White Sox are a game below .500, but just one game in back of Kansas City and 3 1/2 behind the Tigers.
Kansas City has pulled itself into contention with a red-hot stretch in which it's won nine of 13 games, including four in a row.
Increased offensive output has been a key improvement. The Royals are averaging 4.6 runs per game over the 13-game span, nearly a full run better than the 3.8 they'd scored previously.
Alex Gordon has a .317 batting average and four home runs in the 13-game stretch. Eric Hosmer has three home runs in the four-game win streak.
Chicago has also gained ground, climbing from nine games behind the Tigers on May 18.
The White Sox could have tied Kansas City in the standings on Thursday, but they were beaten by Detroit, 4-0.
"When you have a chance to sweep, you want to," pitcher Chris Sale said. "But winning the series is important. You win every series and put yourself in a good position."
Chicago sends Jose Quintana to the mound after a 4 1/3-inning outing on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in which he allowed seven hits and walked four.
He's got nine career starts against Kansas City, but has never won one.
The Royals oppose him with Jeremy Guthrie, who's gone 11 starts without a victory and has lost three straight outings.
In his last five starts, Kansas City has scored three runs.
He faced the White Sox, and Quintana, on May 21 and tossed seven innings of three-run ball en route to a no-decision.
In his last four starts at Chicago, he's 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA.
On Thursday in Chicago, Max Scherzer tossed a three-hit shutout as the Tigers grabbed a win over the White Sox in the finale of a rain-shortened three-game set.
Sale (5-1) allowed a run on five hits with 10 strikeouts over seven innings for Chicago, which got doubles from Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez in the loss.
On Wednesday in Kansas City, Yordano Ventura tossed seven strong innings and the Royals tied a franchise record with four sacrifice flies in a 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
The Royals became only the second team to score four runs all on sacrifice flies since it became an official stat in 1954. The Montreal Expos scored four runs by sacrifice flies in a 1980 game but lost to the Cubs, 8-4.
Ventura (4-5) allowed one run on six hits while striking out three for Kansas City.
06/13 10:26:26 ET
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