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Royals try to end offensive slump vs. Sale

(SportsNetwork.com) - The last thing the Kansas City Royals need in the midst of an offensive slump is an All-Star level stingy pitcher.

But that's exactly what they'll get for game one of a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night when lefty Chris Sale takes the mound for the hosts.

The Royals began the second half with visions of ending a 29-year postseason drought, but they've instead lost three straight games since returning -- and six of seven overall -- while falling below .500 and back to third place in the American League Central.

Kansas City scored just five runs in a three-game sweep at Boston over the weekend and is a game below the break-even mark in the standings for the first time since early June.

"You basically just shake it off and get right back out there," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. "We faced a tough left-hander (Sunday) and it doesn't get any easier. We face Chris Sale (Monday)."

Butler is 14-for-37 in his career against Sale, but the Florida-born southpaw allowed four hits in eight innings of a 5-1 defeat of the Royals when they last met on April 6.

Sale is 2-0 with a 1.52 earned run average in his last three starts, and he allowed a single run in 7 2/3 innings of his last start -- against Boston -- on July 9.

The White Sox bullpen lost the lead and Chicago lost the game, 5-4.

"Obviously, you want to win every game you're winning," Sale said. "Any time you lose a game like (that one) it's tough, but this is baseball."

Sale hasn't pitched a regular season game in 11 days, but his past history indicates that's not an issue. In fact, he's 2-0 with a 2.03 and 18 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings when he pitches on six or more days rest.

Meanwhile, Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie was dinged for 14 runs in eight innings of his final two starts before the break.

Still, he's been very good against Chicago this season, winning two decisions in three starts. And he's 4-0 in his last five games at U.S. Cellular Field, too, with a 1.30 ERA.

On Sunday in Boston, Jon Lester continued his recent dominance on the hill and the Red Sox kept inching back toward respectability by completing a three-game sweep of the Royals with a 6-0 victory at Fenway Park.

The Royals, meanwhile, are 9-17 since taking a 1 1/2-game lead in the Central Division. They now sit seven games behind the front-running Tigers.

In Chicago, Matt Dominguez homered, drove in four runs and sparked the four- run seventh inning that gave the Astros an 11-7 win over the White Sox in the series finale.

Chicago's John Danks got torched for seven runs on 12 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

White Sox star rookie Jose Abreu went 2-for-5 and drove in a run, extending his hit streak to 11 games. He has hit safely in 29 of his last 30.

07/21 10:56:24 ET

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