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Athletics-White Sox Preview

AP - Sports

Whether it's injury related or not, the Chicago White Sox haven't been able to get the big hit lately.

The surging Oakland Athletics feel like they're going to get the job done every time.

Chicago will try to avoid a third straight loss Friday night, with the Athletics' Brandon McCarthy set for his first start at U.S. Cellular Field since being traded from the White Sox six years ago.

Chicago (60-50) is battling Detroit for the top spot in the AL Central, but its lineup has been hit by injuries of late with Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Kevin Youkilis and Paul Konerko missing time.

The absence of those key hitters appeared to finally show up in the last two games - both losses - in which the White Sox totaled three runs and batted .182 (2 for 11) with runners in scoring position.

Rios, among the best in the major leagues with a .381 average with RISP, should return after missing a game, but Konerko is questionable following a collision at first base.

He'll be re-evaluated Friday and could be placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list.

"We just need him to get better and get back as soon as he can," catcher A.J. Pierzynski told the White Sox's official website.

His potential absence won't help with the A's (60-51) on a 23-9 tear. Oakland had slowed down a bit with a three-game losing streak before rebounding with back-to-back wins, scoring 19 runs in those games to take two of three from AL West rival Los Angeles.

"I feel like when the game is tied or close late in the game, we're going to win every game," first baseman Chris Carter told the A's official website after a 9-8 victory Wednesday.

Getting McCarthy (6-3, 2.54 ERA) back after he was sidelined by a strained right shoulder could add to the team's confidence and solidify a starting staff that's surrendered four or more runs nine times in 14 games.

McCarthy, who will be making his first start since June 19, has allowed more than two runs just three times in his 12 outings.

The right-hander has gone 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the White Sox since Chicago traded him to Texas in 2006. He struck out nine in six scoreless innings at Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday and threw a pain-free bullpen session Wednesday.

"That's the key to his game, he gets a lot of early outs and makes things happen quick," bullpen coach Curt Young said.

That would be a good strategy for Chicago's Gavin Floyd (8-9, 4.43). The right-hander threw 41 pitches during a three-run first in his last start and lasted 6 1-3 innings, allowing five runs in a 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Angels on Saturday.

Floyd, 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in three home starts against the A's, pitched 7 1-3 innings of one-run ball in a 2-0 loss at Oakland on April 24.

Right fielder Josh Reddick, who went 2 for 14 as the A's won two of three in that series, is 0 for 9 against Floyd. Designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes is hitless in three at-bats in that matchup.

Chicago took three of four in Oakland's last visit June 9-12, 2011. The A's have won eight of 10 on the road.

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