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White Sox Seek Series Win Over Royals; Trail Twins By Six Games In AL Central

(Sports Network) – Struggles against fellow American League Central residents, specifically the Kansas City Royals, could keep the Chicago White Sox out of the playoffs.

Much in need of a series win, the White Sox turn today to a pitcher with just one career start as Lucas Harrell takes the mound for Sunday’s finale of a three-game set with the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox, who trail the Twins by six games for the top spot in the division, are only 29-33 against teams within the AL Central, including just a 9-8 mark versus the last-place Royals. Chicago is 3-6 at Kansas City and lost for the second time in eight meetings with the Royals at home on Saturday, a disheartening 8-2 setback.

Seven of nine Kansas City starters drove in a run yesterday as the Royals posted 18 hits. Brayan Pena led the way with two hits and a pair of RBI, while Gregor Blanco, Mitch Maier, Kila Ka’aihue and Wilson Betemit all finished with three hits. Billy Butler and Ka’aihue were the lone Royals without an RBI.

“We just have to believe and let our ability take care of itself and just play at a high [level] every single inning, every single pitch and every single at- bat,” Blanco said.

Kyle Davies benefited from the run support and gave up just a run on five hits over six innings as the Royals snapped a four-game losing streak and won for just the second time in nine games.

Edwin Jackson suffered his first loss in four decisions with the White Sox since being acquired from Arizona in a trade, as he yielded six runs and 13 hits over five-plus innings.

“That club, they can swing the bat. We have seen them all year long, and they go out there and swing the bat. From the beginning, we couldn’t do anything,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of the Royals.

Paul Konerko hit his 34th home run, doubled, walked and scored twice for the White Sox, who lost for the fourth time in five games.

A back ailment will prevent Freddy Garcia from making his scheduled start today as the right-hander received an epidural on Thursday. Stepping in will be Harrell, who hasn’t started since his major league debut on July 30.

The 25-year-old righty did get the win on that day after throwing six innings of one-run ball versus Oakland, but did not pitch again until a relief outing on Aug. 28 versus the Yankees.

The right-handed Harrell then pitched four innings out of the bullpen on Tuesday in Detroit, following Garcia after back stiffness forced him out of the game following just two innings of work. Harrell allowed four unearned runs on six hits and three walks and did not factor into the decision.

The Royals’ Sean O’Sullivan has won just once in nine games (eight starts) since being acquired from the Angels and today faces the lone club he beat. However, while that win did come versus the White Sox back on Aug. 22, it came in relief and the right-hander pitched just an inning.

O’Sullivan, who turned 23 on Sept. 1, is 1-5 with a 6.90 earned run average with Kansas City and lost his most recent start on Monday in Minnesota. He allowed five runs on seven hits and five walks over 4 2/3 innings.