The Chicago White Sox are on the verge of their first three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers in nearly 11 years, but beating Matt Harrison to accomplish it won't be easy.
The White Sox have never defeated Harrison, who will try to become the AL's first 12-game winner with his eighth straight victory Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago (44-37) is in search of its first three-game sweep of Texas (50-32) since Aug. 14-16, 2001. The White Sox have already ended the Rangers' hopes of winning an eighth straight series.
Harrison (11-3, 3.16 ERA) presents a major challenge, especially since he's 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA in six career starts against Chicago - with scoreless outings in all three wins. He yielded four hits over six innings in a 5-0 victory April 8.
The White Sox are 8-13 against left-handed starters, and Harrison is 7-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his last nine outings. His streak of seven straight winning decisions matches the one he had from Sept. 4, 2011-April 21, 2012, as the third-longest in franchise history by a southpaw behind runs of nine (2005) and eight (2004) by Kenny Rogers.
Harrison gave up two runs over eight innings Friday to earn a 4-3 victory over Oakland. He's a candidate to start next week's All-Star game in his first appearance.
"I'm just glad to be a part of this and continue to do what I'm doing," Harrison told the Rangers' official website.
Harrison has fared well against some of Chicago's power hitters, with Paul Konerko going 2 for 14 against him, A.J. Pierzynski 0 for 8 and Adam Dunn 0 for 6.
If there's a reason to believe Harrison could be vulnerable Thursday, it's his 6.52 ERA in five starts in day games.
The White Sox won for the sixth time in eight games Wednesday as Kevin Youkilis was the hero of a 5-4, 10-inning win. The newly acquired third baseman singled in the winning run in the 10th, improving to 5 for 10 with five RBIs in this series.
"I had a little rut baseball-wise and statistically and a funk and hopefully this will be a thing where I can keep going forward and playing better ball," Youkilis said.
The Rangers are looking to avoid their first four-game slide since May 29-June 2. Josh Hamilton drilled his 26th homer, but Texas managed two hits while failing to score over its final seven innings at the plate.
"When you pitch there won't be any good hitting and that's the way it is," manager Ron Washington said. "We had opportunities and we just didn't cash them in."
Hamilton owns a .374 career average against Chicago for his highest against an AL foe. He's 8 for 17 in the season series this year as Texas has dropped three of five.
Chicago rookie Jose Quintana (3-1, 2.19) will make his eighth start Thursday. He yielded a total of six runs in his first six before allowing that many over six innings Friday, although he got credit for a 14-7 road win over the Yankees.
The left-hander entered that outing with a 16-inning scoreless streak before giving up four runs in the first inning. He has never faced the Rangers.