(Sports Network) - The Chicago White Sox have been an awfully tough team to beat over the past two months, and the current American League Central leaders have been virtually invincible at U.S. Cellular Field during that time period.
Chicago will attempt to extend its home winning streak to 12 consecutive games when the Oakland Athletics invade the Windy City tonight for the first of three straight meetings between the teams.
The White Sox continued their home dominance with Thursday's 9-5 victory over Seattle, which completed a four-game sweep for Ozzie Guillen's club. Chicago is now an astounding 18-1 at U.S. Cellular Field since June 9, and the team's 11-game surge is its longest as the host since the White Sox ripped off 13 straight wins at Comiskey Park from July 1-August 5, 1989.
"We come in believing we can win that game tonight -- no matter who we're facing," said first baseman Paul Konerko. "We just got into a good groove a while back of just coming in and playing nine innings as hard as we can."
Chicago mashed its way to its latest triumph, as Ramon Castro belted two solo home runs as part of a 3-for-4 night and Konerko and Carlos Quentin had back- to-back blasts in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach. Juan Pierre added a two-run double for the White Sox, while Omar Vizquel went 3-for-4 and also knocked in a pair of runs in the win.
The offensive outburst helped Freddy Garcia (10-4) record his 10th win of the season, with the ex-Mariner giving up three runs on seven hits over the first six innings.
Thursday's win extended the White Sox' lead over second-place Minnesota to 1 1/2 games in the AL Central standings.
Dan Hudson had been originally slated to start for Chicago in tonight's opener, but the well-regarded rookie was traded to Arizona along with minor- league pitcher David Holmberg on Friday in exchange for right-hander Edwin Jackson. To take Hudson's place in the interim, the White Sox will promote Lucas Harrell from Triple-A Charlotte to make this evening's start.
A fourth-round selection of the White Sox in the 2004 draft, Harrell has made 24 starts for Charlotte this year and compiled a 9-9 record with a 4.24 earned run average. The 24-year-old posted a 12-4 mark with a 3.27 ERA in a combined 25 appearances for the Knights and Double-A Birmingham in 2009.
Jackson was an AL All-Star with Detroit in 2009 and went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA with the Tigers last year, but struggled in his first season in Arizona. The 29-year-old registered a 6-10 mark with a disappointing 5.16 ERA in 21 starts with the Diamondbacks, but did pitch a no-hitter in a win over Tampa Bay on June 25.
The Athletics did take two of three bouts from the White Sox in Oakland this past weekend, but couldn't follow up with a road series win over AL West front-runner Texas. After the divisional foes split the first two games of the set, the Rangers claimed last night's rubber match by a 7-4 count.
Vin Mazzaro (6-3) had a string of four straight winning decisions halted after the A's starter was battered for seven runs and 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"They have a really good lineup, and you almost want to be perfect," Mazzaro said of the Rangers. "I had a tough one [Thursday], so I'll bounce back and get ready for the next start."
Rajai Davis went 2-for-5 with an RBI single for Oakland, which has still won 10 of its last 14 contests despite Thursday's setback. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Matt Carson also finished with a pair of hits in the loss.
The Athletics have been successful at U.S. Cellular Field in the recent past, having prevailed in four of six matchups with the White Sox there last season. Oakland has also won seven of the past 11 overall tilts in the series.
Oakland plans to hand the ball to Brett Anderson for the oft-injured youngster's first major-league start since June 3. The talented left-hander has spent two stints on the disabled list and been limited to six starts this season due to elbow problems, but pronounced himself ready to go by striking out nine over 5 1/3 shutout innings in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday.
When healthy, Anderson has been excellent for the A's this year. The 22-year- old has produced a 2.35 ERA over his six starts with the big club and hasn't allowed a home run in 30 2/3 innings, while walking only four batters during that stretch. He's yielded one run or fewer in four of those appearances.
In his only previous start at U.S. Cellular Field, Anderson spun seven shutout innings to defeat the White Sox during an 11-win rookie campaign in 2009.