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Royals, White Sox jockey for position in Chicago

(SportsNetwork.com) - Rookie right-hander Scott Carroll gets another crack at his hometown team on Tuesday night, when the Chicago White Sox host the Kansas City Royals in game two of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.

Carroll returned to the Chicago starting rotation in late June and was ravaged for 17 hits and 12 runs in 11 innings in losing his initial two turns, but has since settled down to toss 11 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing just three hits in a pair of victories.

His last outing ended abruptly with back issues after five scoreless innings of a 6-2 defeat of Cleveland on July 12, but an extended rest with the All- Star break seems to have cured all ills.

He's 3-5 with a 5.14 ERA in nine starts as a rookie, but he was dinged especially hard by the Royals -- allowing six runs on eight hits in four innings -- in a May 19 effort in his hometown. The White Sox ended up with a 7-6 win in that game, and Carroll returned for three innings of one-run relief against them in Chicago on June 13.

The White Sox ended a four-game skid with a win in Monday's opener and moved within a game of the third-place Royals in the American League's Central Division.

Chicago, though, is still nine games behind first-place Detroit.

Rookie phenom Jose Abreu is in the midst of a 12-game hitting streak, and he's 1-for-3 in his brief career against Kansas City veteran Bruce Chen, who'll get the start for the Royals.

Chen has been masterful -- to the tune of a 2-0 record and 1.40 ERA -- in his last four outings against Chicago, which includes 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in the Royals' 4-3 win on April 5.

The native of Panama subsequently missed two months with a back injury and has started just once since, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings against Detroit on July 13.

The Royals have struggled mightily with the bats in recent days, scoring just 17 runs in a stretch where they've lost seven of eight games. In five of those games, they've scored either one or zero runs.

"We've got to find some offense somewhere," manager Ned Yost said.

On Monday, Adam Dunn hit a two-run single in the first inning and Chris Sale did the rest as the White Sox eked past the Royals, 3-1.

Sale tossed seven innings of one-run ball in lowering his ERA to 2.03 on the year, while scattering seven hits, walking one and fanning eight.

"I felt really good tonight," Sale said. "These are the dog days, and we have to bear down now."

Kansas City had won 10 of its previous 11 as the visitor against the White Sox.

Jeremy Guthrie (5-9) settled down after a rough start but still took the loss, having allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over six frames.

07/22 10:24:37 ET