(Sports Network) - The Chicago White Sox will be vying to further pad their lead atop the American League's Central Division when the resurgent club resumes a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners this evening at Safeco Field.
Chicago was able to extend its advantage over Detroit and Minnesota in the division race by coming through with a 6-1 victory over the lowly Mariners on Monday. With both the Tigers and Twins losing last night, the White Sox are now 2 1/2 games ahead of both teams for the Central's top spot.
The White Sox also rebounded from three straight road defeats to the Twins over the weekend and received a big effort from rookie pitcher Dan Hudson in the opener. The young right-hander threw 6 1/3 effective innings and limited Seattle to a run on five hits while striking out six batters in earning the second win of his brief major league career.
Alex Rios was the offensive star for Chicago, going 2-for-4 with three RBI and belting a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning that snapped a 1-1 tie. Andruw Jones added a solo shot in the win, while Omar Vizquel and Gordon Beckham each went 2-for-4 with an RBI to help the Sox prevail.
"We didn't panic and say, 'Oh my gosh, we have to win this game today'," said Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski afterward. "We just went out and played and things worked out."
The win was the White Sox' 10th in their past 13 contests, and Beckham has played a big role in that surge. The second-year second baseman is riding an eight-game hitting streak and is batting a scorching .636 (14-for-22) over his last six outings.
Russell Branyan knocked in the lone run for Seattle, which fell to 3-13 in July, with a first-inning double. Starting pitcher David Pauley (0-2) worked the first six innings and surrendered three runs while striking out four.
"I thought Pauley did a nice job," said Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. "Early he got hurt with some base hits with his fastball, but [he] made some adjustments with his breaking ball."
Chicago has now won all four meetings between these teams in 2010, having swept a three-game set from Seattle in the Windy City from April 23-25. John Danks was responsible for one of those victories and will be taking the mound tonight seeking to keep his own personal unbeaten streak intact.
Danks has won two straight starts and five of his past seven decisions to up his season record to 9-7. The steady left-hander did struggle in Thursday's matchup with Minnesota, permitting six runs and nine hits in a six-inning stint, but received plenty of offensive support in the White Sox' 8-7 triumph over the rival Twins.
The 25-year-old was much better in his previous assignment, firing a two-hit shutout and striking out seven Anaheim hitters in a July 8 win over the Angels.
Danks also pitched well in besting the Mariners on April 25, with the former first-round pick yielding two runs and no walks over eight sharp innings. He's just 2-4 with a 4.50 earned run average in seven lifetime encounters with Seattle, but has posted a 2.93 ERA in four Safeco Field starts.
The Mariners counter with Doug Fister, with the right-hander aiming to put an end to a frustrating seven-start winless streak. The Fresno State product has registered four losses and three no-decisions since a May 14 ousting of Tampa Bay and hasn't pitched well since returning from a month-long stint on the disabled list in late June. In four starts after being activated, Fister is 0-2 with a 7.08 ERA.
The 26-year-old seemed to have turned the corner after holding Kansas City to a run in a six-inning no-decision on July 7, but was hit hard by the Angels in his first start after the All-Star break. Fister allowed five runs and a whopping 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings of Thursday's 8-3 loss to Anaheim.
Fister did give up just two runs over eight innings in a no-decision against the White Sox on April 24 and also performed well in a test with Chicago at Safeco Field last August. In that game, the White Sox managed no runs and just one hit in six innings against the Seattle starter.