The Chicago White Sox have been tough to beat lately, and especially so at U.S. Cellular Field.
The AL Central-leading White Sox will try to win 10 straight home games for the first time in more than two years on Thursday when they face Justin Duchscherer and the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a four-game series.
Chicago (49-35) extended its overall winning streak to seven and completed a three-game sweep of Cleveland with a 6-5, 10-inning victory on Wednesday to maintain its 2 1/2-game advantage over Minnesota in the AL Central.
A.J. Pierzynski hit his second homer of the night in the 10th, Brian Anderson drove in two runs, and Jermaine Dye went deep for the White Sox, who are one win shy of the season-high eight-game winning streak they had May 14-22.
“We feel good. We like the position we’re in, we like the situation we have going right now,” Pierzynski said. “We like the way we’re playing, and we like the way everyone is contributing.”
Chicago also picked up its ninth straight victory at U.S. Cellular Field, equaling its run from May 25-June 13. It hasn’t won 10 in a row at home since April 15-May 4, 2006.
Dye has notched 12 of his team high-tying 19 homers as well as 34 RBIs at home, where he has batted .336 (47-for-147) in 38 games.
The right fielder has also gone 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs versus Oakland (45-39) starter—and former teammate—Duchscherer (8-5, 1.91 ERA).
Duchscherer, the majors’ ERA leader, has conceded two earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 13 starts, holding opposing batters to a league-low .197 average.
The right-hander, though, had his four-start winning streak snapped on Saturday, allowing the game’s only run and two hits in eight innings of a 1-0 home defeat to San Francisco.
This will be Duchscherer’s first start versus the White Sox, against whom he is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 13 career relief appearances.
The A’s have dropped four of their last five, and are coming off of back-to-back losses to the first-place Los Angeles Angels. The bullpen gave up four runs in a 7-4 defeat on Wednesday to drop them 5 1/2 games back of the AL West leaders.
Oakland’s relievers have yielded 10 earned runs over their last 10 1-3 innings.
“Our bullpen’s been solid the whole year,” catcher Rob Bowen told the A’s official Web site. “You can’t take too much from (the recent slump).”
The A’s, who are 1-2 on their seven-game road trip, are struggling through injuries.
Shortstop Bobby Crosby is day-to-day after straining his left hamstring Wednesday. Six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez was placed on the 15-day disabled list—his second stint this season—earlier in the day because of a sore right shoulder.
Sweeney, though, told the A’s Web site he plans to face former teammate Javier Vazquez (7-6, 4.49) on Thursday.
Vazquez went 2-2 with a 7.48 ERA in five June starts, and labored through 4 1-3 innings on Saturday in a 6-5 victory over the crosstown Cubs. He allowed five runs and nine hits, while striking out seven.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.60 ERA in five career starts versus the A’s, beating them at U.S. Cellular Field on May 23, 2006.
Chicago and Oakland split two games in April, and the White Sox have won six of their last eight home matchups in the all-time series.