Cleveland (80-80) at Chicago (86-73)

Light Rain Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 37° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Sat Sep 27, 2008
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Poor pitching is largely to blame for the Chicago White Sox falling out of first place in the AL Central. Putting Javier Vazquez on the mound may not help matters.

After missing a chance to move back into first in the division, the White Sox hope Vazquez can solve his recent woes despite pitching on three days’ rest against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night in the middle game of the teams’ series.

Chicago (86-73), which dropped three straight at Minnesota to lose the division lead to the Twins, is trying to regroup at U.S. Cellular Field in its final regular-season series. The White Sox lost 11-8 to the Indians (80-80) on Friday night, missing a chance to reclaim the top spot in the Central.

Minnesota, which had won four straight, lost at home to Kansas City. The White Sox have two games left against the Indians and a makeup game Monday against Detroit, if needed.

“It is frustrating to look up there and see the team in front of you getting beat and losing and you can’t do anything with it,” Chicago’s Paul Konerko said. “I know it’s tough to stay positive when you look bad and it’s sloppy. But we’re still right there and crazy things have happened in this game.”

Chicago remained one-half game behind Minnesota due to another poor pitching performance, allowing three home runs and 10 hits overall. The White Sox have posted a 7.79 ERA and a .315 opponents batting average over their last four games, walking 15 in 34 2-3 innings.

Vazquez (12-15, 4.46 ERA) started the first game of that stretch, allowing five runs and seven hits in four innings as Chicago lost 9-3 to Minnesota on Tuesday. He has lost two straight starts, surrendering 12 runs - 11 earned - while lasting 7 2-3 innings.

The veteran right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in four starts versus the Indians this season, and 7-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 15 career starts against them.

Cleveland first baseman Ryan Garko is batting .368 (7-for-19) against Vazquez, and is coming off a big game at the plate. He homered twice, including a grand slam in a six-run fifth inning, finishing 3-for-4 with five RBIs to help the Indians win for the first time in their last seven games at Chicago.

Garko is batting .538 (14-for-26) with three home runs and 14 RBIs in his last eight games, with Cleveland winning six of those contests.

“We have a lot of pride and we want to play hard for ourselves and our managers and the coaching staff,” Garko said.

Chicago, meanwhile, lost despite a 12-hit performance. Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski all homered for the White Sox, who lost for the seventh time in their last nine games.

Dye has six home runs in 16 games against the Indians this season, batting .295 (18-for-61) with 10 RBIs.

Dye and Chicago’s lineup will now face Zach Jackson (1-3, 6.04) for the first time. The 25-year-old left-hander is coming off his best start of the season, yielding two runs and six hits in six innings to earn a win as Cleveland beat Boston 4-3 on Monday.

Jackson will be trying to boost an Indians pitching staff that has allowed five runs or more in each of the last four games.

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Starting Pitchers

Z. Jackson Tex vs. J. Vázquez Mia
2-3 Record 12-16
5.55 ERA 4.67
31 K 200
16 BB 61
1.46 WHIP 1.32

Scoreboard

Saturday, Sep 27