The Chicago White Sox are heading home in a much more precarious situation than when they left.
Chicago looks to avoid a season-worst sixth straight loss as Chris Sale tries to win his ninth consecutive home decision in the opener of a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
The White Sox beat Detroit 5-4 last Monday at U.S. Cellular Field to increase their AL Central lead to three games before a six-game road trip to Kansas City and Anaheim.
Chicago (81-71) proceeded to drop two of three to the Royals and was swept by the Los Angeles Angels after Sunday's 4-1 loss, and its division lead has been trimmed to one game.
The Tigers failed to take further advantage after being swept in a doubleheader against Minnesota on Sunday.
Adam Dunn is 2 for 21 (.096) over his last six games and Kevin Youkilis is 3 for 26 (.115) over his last seven for a lineup that has scored eight runs during its five-game skid.
"You've just got to go out and play,'' Youkilis said. "If you put pressure upon yourself, the game is going to get a lot worse. You have got to go out, have fun and try to win ballgames. A lot of guys are working their butt off to do that, and we're just coming up short right now.''
Paul Konerko, hitting .160 over his last seven, said heading home may help Chicago get back on track.
"Right now, it's 'Let's get out of here, get home and a change of scenery can't do us any worse,''' Konerko said.
Sale (17-7, 2.82 ERA) has been stellar on the South Side this season while going 9-2 with a 1.72 ERA in 12 starts, including beating Cleveland 7-2 on May 1. He hasn't allowed more than two runs while winning his last eight home decisions over nine outings since May 23.
The left-hander struck out eight and allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings Wednesday in a 3-0 loss at Kansas City. He went 10-2 with a 2.19 ERA prior to the All-Star break, but he's 7-5 with a 3.65 ERA since.
The Indians (63-90), who have lost five straight to the White Sox, come in off their highest-scoring performance of the season. They'd already dropped their fifth consecutive series by losing the first two games in Kansas City, but won 15-4 on Sunday as Carlos Santana homered twice and finished with five RBIs.
Manager Manny Acta says his club doesn't plan on lying down in Chicago.
"When you're playing a team that's in the middle of it or fighting for a spot, they deserve to have your best team on the field out of respect for the other club," Acta told the team's official website. "I don't want to be sitting here a year from now or two years from now and not feeling that somebody else on the other side is giving their best effort."
Zach McAllister, a native of Chillicothe, Ill. - roughly 140 miles southwest of U.S. Cellular Field - will be making his first major league start in his home state.
McAllister (5-8, 4.31) hasn't won since beating Boston on Aug. 11, losing four straight decisions while compiling a 6.23 ERA over his last seven starts. He allowed four runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday.
The right-hander, though, won his only start versus Chicago this season, allowing four runs - two earned - in six innings of an 8-6 home victory May 7.
The White Sox totaled 35 runs in a three-game home sweep of the Indians from May 25-27.
- Chicago White Sox
- Cleveland Indians