Rangers-White Sox Preview

The Associated Press

The Chicago White Sox are the only division leader playing below .500 at home. Their recent play at U.S. Cellular Field seems to indicate that won't be the case much longer.

Coming off their best offensive performance in more than six years, the White Sox seek a fourth straight home victory Wednesday night against the Texas Rangers.

After totaling two runs in losing the final two games of their road trip at Yankee Stadium, the White Sox (43-37) looked very comfortable back on the South Side in Tuesday's series opener against Texas. Kevin Youkilis hit his first home run with his new team and Adam Dunn and Alex Rios also went deep in the first inning en route to a 19-2 rout.

"This team is built to win, and we've just got to do that," Youkilis said. "I think if we pitch well and play good defense, we don't need to score 19 runs a game to do that."

A.J. Pierzynski also homered and joined Youkilis, Rios and Alexei Ramirez with three hits. The 19 runs were Chicago's most since a 20-6 win over St. Louis on June 20, 2006.

Though he insisted he wasn't trying to make a statement, Pierzynski had to be satisfied with his big night after he was left off the AL All-Star team by Rangers manager Ron Washington. Chicago's catcher is 7 for 14 with three homers and six RBIs in his last three games.

"It's over and done with. There is nothing I can do, nothing I can say that is going to change anything. That's it," Pierzynski said. "It was just nice to win because the Rangers have been the best team all year in the American League."

There wasn't any need for clutch hitting Tuesday, but the White Sox continued to excel in that department. They went 10 for 15 with runners in scoring position and are batting a major league-best .303 in those situations.

An impressive 23-16 road record has helped keep Chicago atop the Central but the lead is only two games due in large part to a 20-21 mark at home. However, the White Sox have 28 runs and 44 hits during a three-game win streak at U.S. Cellular while their starting pitchers own a 1.54 ERA in the past five there.

Rios' three hits Tuesday raised his average to .314 - his highest since late April. He's 17 for 34 with three homers and nine RBIs in his past eight games.

The lopsided loss ended a four-game road winning streak for major league-leading Texas (50-31), which still owns the franchise's best record through 81 games.

Scott Feldman (2-6, 6.13 ERA) will try to cool Chicago's bats and win three straight starts for the first time since a four-game run Aug. 23-Sept. 9, 2009. The right-hander has a 4.91 ERA in his last two outings but the Rangers have scored 13 runs for him in those games.

Feldman wasn't sharp Thursday but was good enough to earn a 7-6 win over Oakland. He allowed four runs and a season-high nine hits - three homers - in five-plus innings.

Paul Konerko is 7 for 16 against Texas this season and 6 for 17 with two homers lifetime against Feldman.

Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.50) rebounded from the worst of his three starts this season with his best Thursday at Yankee Stadium. He limited New York to two runs and six hits over seven innings before Chicago rallied in the ninth for a 4-3 win.

The rookie right-hander has never faced the Rangers.

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