(Sports Network) - A matchup with one of the National League's top teams has yet to slow down the surging Chicago White Sox, who'll put a seven-game winning streak on the line when they resume a three-game series with the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago kept up its recent winning ways and season-long success in interleague play with a 9-6 victory over the Braves in Tuesday's opener of this set. The win, the 11th in the past 12 contests for the White Sox, moved the team above the .500 mark for the first time since it prevailed in its April 5 season opener.
The White Sox also moved within 4 1/2 games of Minnesota for first place in the American League's Central Division after the Twins lost to Milwaukee on Tuesday. Chicago had been 9 1/2 games off the pace back on May 8.
Carlos Quentin belted a three-run homer and Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez also finished 3-for-4 for the White Sox, who pounded out 16 hits in improving to 11-2 in interleague games for the year. Both Pierzynski and Omar Vizquel drove in a pair of runs on the night.
Chicago also received a solid seven innings out of John Danks (7-5), with the left-hander allowing three runs on six hits and walking just one to claim the win.
"You don't want to be the guy to snap the streak," Danks said. "You don't want to be the weak link. We are all feeding off each other, and we're all throwing the ball well and hopefully we'll continue to do that the rest of the year."
Braves starter Tommy Hanson (7-4) was far less effective then his counterpart, as the young standout was rocked for nine runs and 13 hits before exiting after just 3 2/3 innings.
Brooks Conrad went 2-for-4 with three RBI to pace Atlanta offensively, with Martin Prado and Brian McCann each hitting solo homers in the loss. Prado ended 2-for-5 with two runs scored to raise his NL-leading batting average to .340.
The Braves had a string of five straight wins snapped and saw its lead atop the NL East cut down to 1 1/2 games after the second-place New York Mets defeated Detroit on Tuesday.
Atlanta will attempt to bounce back tonight behind Tim Hudson, one of the keys to the team's surge to the top of the NL East pack. The veteran right-hander has amassed a 6-1 record and a tremendous 2.00 ERA over his past 10 starts and hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in each of his 14 outings this season. His 2.34 overall ERA is the sixth-best mark among NL hurlers at the moment.
Hudson put forth another outstanding effort this past Thursday, limiting Tampa Bay to one run and four hits over seven innings to earn his seventh victory of the season. The 34-year-old had suffered a loss in his previous start, even though he yielded just two runs in an eight-inning complete game at Minnesota on June 11.
The two-time All-Star hasn't usually fared well in interleague play in recent years, however. Thursday's win was only Hudson's second in 14 decisions against AL teams since being acquired by the Braves from Oakland following the 2004 season, and he's registered a subpar 6.34 ERA in those games. The Alabama native has also had problems pitching at U.S. Cellular Field in the past, having gone 0-2 and surrendering a whopping 23 runs (20 earned) in 13 2/3 innings over three previous starts there.
Hudson is 3-2 in seven lifetime meetings with Chicago, but hasn't faced the White Sox since 2002 while still with the Athletics.
Mark Buehrle gets the call for Chicago tonight and like his team, the accomplished left-hander has performed well as of late following an undesired beginning to the season.
Buehrle enters tonight's clash having won back-to-back assignments to improve his 2010 record to 5-6 and lower his season ERA to a still-pedestrian 4.71. He halted a three-start winless drought by firing 6 2/3 innings to best the rival Chicago Cubs June 12 at Wrigley Field, then held Pittsburgh to two runs over 7 1/3 strong frames in a victory at PNC Park on Thursday.
Those two wins added to Buehrle's already-strong credentials in interleague action. The 31-year-old is now an excellent 22-6 with a 3.37 ERA in 36 all- time matchups (35 starts) against the National League.
Buehrle's only previous start against the Braves took place in 2004 and was a successful one, as he picked up a win after permitting three runs through eight innings in a contest held at U.S. Cellular Field.
The four-time AL All-Star will be trying to pitch Chicago to its first eight- game winning streak since May 14-22, 2008.
These teams last opposed one another back in 2004, with the White Sox taking two of three games from the Braves in Chicago.