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Friday, July 27th (All times Eastern)
Chicago White Sox (53-45) at Texas Rangers (58-39), 8:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Chris Sale (11-3, 2.37) Texas - Yu Darvish (11-6, 3.88)
(Sports Network) - A pair of American League division leaders go head-to-head tonight at the Ballpark in Arlington, where the Texas Rangers begin a three- game set with a Chicago White Sox team riding a three-game winning streak.
Chicago had fallen out of first place in the AL Central after losing five straight times last week, including three to Detroit that allowed the Tigers to move into the top spot. The White Sox were able to bounce back with three consecutive victories over non-contending Minnesota in their last series, however, and now lead Detroit by a half-game after the Tigers fell to Cleveland on Thursday.
The sweep of the Twins was led by an offense that generated 26 runs over the three games and came through with 12 hits en route to an 8-2 triumph in Wednesday's finale.
Dayan Viciedo paced Chicago by going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI, while Alex Rios added a two-run shot to help back six solid innings from starter Jake Peavy.
"The boys really stepped up and swung the bats well," said Peavy, who held Minnesota to two runs -- one earned -- and struck out six over the first six innings. "We just played solid team baseball. It was nice to come back from the short road trip and play well."
The White Sox were able to prevail despite being without catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who sat out the last two contests with a mild oblique strain but could be back in the lineup tonight. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis is expected to play after leaving Wednesday's win with a sprained left ankle.
Chicago will get its first-ever look tonight at Rangers rookie sensation Yu Darvish, with the well-regarded Japanese hurler attempting to build off a dominating performance his last time out.
Darvish matched a career high with 11 strikeouts to pick up his 11th win of the season this past Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, limiting Texas' AL West rival to two runs and just three hits through seven innings in the process. It's the third time in his last four starts that the 25-year-old has fanned double-digit batters, and his 132 strikeouts for the season currently ranks fifth in the American League.
He's also excelled pitching in hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in his major league debut, having amassed a glossy 7-1 record with a 3.50 earned run average in eight home starts, and will be taking on a Chicago squad that's dropped its last five road tilts.
The White Sox will be sending out a talented young pitcher of their own tonight in 2012 All-Star Chris Sale, though the hard-throwing lefty didn't have one of his best efforts the last time he took the hill.
Sale allowed a season high-tying five runs and walked four batters through seven innings in Saturday's 7-1 loss at Detroit, which snapped a string of eight straight winning decisions for the former first-round pick. He had registered a stellar 1.61 ERA over 10 starts during that unbeaten run, yielding two runs or fewer in nine of those outings.
The 23-year-old handcuffed the Rangers in Chicago back on July 3, permitting just one run on five hits over 7 1/3 strong innings to earn the victory in his first career start against Texas. Sale had faced the Rangers four times in relief prior to that effort and owns a 1.69 ERA in a combined 10 2/3 innings versus the club.
Texas sports a relatively comfortable five-game advantage over the second- place Angels in the AL West and began its present 10-game homestand by winning two of three bouts from slumping Boston earlier in the week. In Wednesday's rubber match, Derek Holland teamed up with two relievers on a five-hitter as the Rangers came through with a 5-3 decision.
Holland worked the first 7 2/3 innings and gave up three runs and all five Red Sox hits while striking out seven. After Mike Adams came on to get the final out of the top of the eighth, closer Joe Nathan tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his 20th save of 2012.
The game was tied at 3-3 entering the bottom of the seventh, when Texas' Elvis Andrus reached base by being hit with a pitch and advanced to third on an Adrian Beltre single before scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from Boston starter Josh Beckett.
Nelson Cruz extended the margin with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth as the Rangers improved to 10-2-1 over their last 13 series.
Texas was swept in a three-game set against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field earlier this month, however, but did take two of three meetings from Chicago in Arlington from Apr. 4-6.
07/27 10:49:19 ET