While Chris Sale's impressive season has him among the leading contenders for the AL Cy Young Award, his biggest concern is getting the Chicago White Sox back to the postseason.
Sale will try to help the AL Central leaders win their sixth straight Wednesday night when they continue their road series against the Kansas City Royals.
Chicago (81-66) maintained its three-game division lead over Detroit with a 3-2 win Tuesday. Alex Rios hit the team's third solo homer of the game in the seventh to snap a tie and Gavin Floyd pitched seven strong innings in his second start off the disabled list.
"We're no way content," Floyd said. "We're content in the place that we are, but there's still a lot of baseball left. It's fun to be in the position we're at. We've just got to keep pushing."
Chicago hasn't had much success against Kansas City this season, losing 10 of 16 meetings, but it can secure a second series victory Wednesday.
Sale (17-6, 2.78 ERA) seeks a third straight winning start and his second against the Royals during that span.
The left-hander, who ranks among the AL's top five in wins, ERA and opponent batting average (.222), scattered three hits over six innings of a 6-0 win at Minnesota on Friday.
"When you start thinking about things like that you get a little selfish, and what's really important slips away," Sale said of individual accolades. "I want to play for this team. I'm not trying to win any awards or anything like that. The only award I want is a big, shiny trophy at the end."
Sale, looking to become the first White Sox starter to win 18 games since Jon Garland in 2006, is 3-2 with a 2.94 ERA in five starts against the Royals this season. He limited Kansas City to one run and five hits over six innings of a 5-4 win at U.S. Cellular Field on Sept. 8.
Several Royals hitters have given Sale trouble, including Billy Butler, who is 6 for 16 with a pair of home runs against him this year.
Butler had a two-run single in the first inning Tuesday, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. He's driven in 10 runs during his run, and has a career-high 97 RBIs this season.
Carlos Beltran in 2003 was the last Kansas City player to have 100 RBIs in a season.
The Royals (66-81), who have dropped four of five, will hand the ball to Bruce Chen (10-12, 5.42), the losing pitcher opposite Sale earlier this month. He gave up five runs and six hits - three of them homers - in six innings.
That was the first of two straight losses for Chen, who left without a decision against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday after yielding five runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.
The left-hander is 2-1 with a 5.79 ERA in four starts against Chicago this year, giving up eight homers. Chen has held Paul Konerko to two hits in 11 at-bats in 2012 but both have left the park.
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- Chicago White Sox
- Chris Sale
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