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AP - Sports

The Chicago White Sox were a combined six outs away from sweeping their last series, and despite some strong offensive performances from Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu, their struggles have continued.

Scott Carroll begins his second stint in the starting rotation Thursday night as the visiting White Sox begin a four-game series against the first-place Toronto Blue Jays.

Chicago (36-43) led by a run with one out in the ninth inning of its series opener at Baltimore on Monday before Chris Davis' three-run homer gave the Orioles a 6-4 win. After the White Sox won on Tuesday, Nelson Cruz hit a tying grand slam with two outs in the eighth and Chicago eventually fell 5-4 in 12 innings.

The White Sox have lost six of seven and sit in last place in the AL Central.

''The baseball gods must be upset with us in some way, shape, or form,'' leadoff hitter Adam Eaton said. ''They kind of had it out for us this, about a week.''

Eaton hasn't let anything affect his personal performance, though, as he tied his career high with four hits and drove in a run in the finale. He's reached base in 20 straight and is hitting .417 with six extra-base hits during a career-best 12-game hitting streak.

Abreu has been surging as well, batting .357 with four homers and 10 RBIs during a 10-game run. He hit his 23rd homer Wednesday and looks to continue his streak in support of Carroll (2-3, 4.30 ERA), who will be making his first start since May 19.

Carroll went 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA in five starts before being moved to the bullpen. The rookie posted a 1.83 ERA in six relief appearances and will get another shot in the rotation after the struggling Andre Rienzo was placed in a long-relief role.

"It was a good opportunity for me to show that my skills can be used in the bullpen or starting," Carroll, who added a cut fastball during his time in the bullpen, told MLB's official website. "I think it helped me mentally and just confidence-wise to incorporate a new pitch."

The right-hander will be making his first appearance against the Blue Jays (44-36), who failed to complete a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees after falling 5-3 on Wednesday.

Jose Reyes homered and went 5 for 10 over the final two games of the series, while Melky Cabrera added a two-run single. Cabrera is hitting .406 over his last eight.

Toronto played the entire series without slugger Jose Bautista, who is dealing with a strained left hamstring. Manager John Gibbons hopes to avoid putting Bautista, who leads the AL with a .433 on-base percentage and was named the league's captain for the upcoming home run derby, on the disabled list. There's a chance he could appear in this series.

"He's getting better, he feels better," Gibbons said. "We want to make good and sure he's ready to go. He's making progress."

The Blue Jays have lost five of the last seven home meetings with the White Sox and will send J.A. Happ to the mound in the opener.

Happ (6-4, 4.87) had another rough outing Saturday, giving up a career high-tying eight runs - seven earned - and walking four over four innings of an 11-1 loss at Cincinnati. It marked the second time in three starts he's pitched fewer than five innings.

''The walks - that's terrible,'' Happ said. ''That's obviously frustrating. Of course I'm not happy about that, and I need to do better."

The left-hander lost both starts while posting a 6.75 ERA against the White Sox last season.

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