Trying to squeeze in back-to-back wins for the first time game set between members of the American League Central.
Last night Bruce Chen operated through six shutout innings to lead the Royals to a 5-1 victory over Chicago in the series opener at U.S. Cellular Field. The win for Kansas City snapped a four-game slide and was the team's sixth in nine opportunities this season versus the Sox.
Chen yielded one hit -- a single by A.J. Pierzynski -- fanned four and walked three as he logged his seventh win of the campaign. Louis Coleman and Greg Holland came out of the bullpen to preserve the victory.
"They are in our division, so I've pitched against them a lot," Chen said. "I have been learning what works and what doesn't. When I come here I am very focused and determined because they have a very good ball club."
Melky Cabrera connected on a three-run homer and Billy Butler picked up the other two RBI with a solo homer and an RBI single for the Royals, who are still last in the AL Central and 13 1/2 games out of contention despite the victory.
Paul Konerko and Juan Pierre picked up the only other hits for Chicago, which had won six of its previous seven contests but still finds itself five games out of first and a mere 24-33 at home thus far in 2011.
Zach Stewart managed to make it through 6 1/3 innings in defeat, giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking two in just his third decision of the season.
"I didn't get a feel for it in the first inning until after the first hitter," Stewart said. "After that, I felt like I got into a bit of a groove and felt like I stuck to my game plan."
Taking the hill for the visitors tonight will be Luke Hochevar as he aims for his first win of the season against Chicago. The right-hander, who is 3-3 in his career versus the White Sox, had won three straight outings leading up to his last appearance, but failed to earn a decision in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday.
In that contest Hochevar permitted just one runs on five hits and a couple of walks through seven innings, striking out seven for the second straight game as he continued to lower his ERA to 4.79.
As for the White Sox, they've chosen to go with Jake Peavy as their starter tonight, even though the right-hander has already lost two games to the Royals in 2011 and is now 4-4 in his career with a 4.44 ERA in such matchups.
Peavy, who hasn't allowed a home run in his last six outings, celebrated his fifth win of the season on Sunday when he tossed eight shutout innings against Minnesota on the road. The 10-year vet allowed just three hits and struck out six without issuing a single walk as he evened his season record.
Kansas City, which is just 19-27 against the rest of the AL Central, has struggled this year on the mound, currently second from the bottom in the league with an ERA of 4.42. Nevertheless, that number is still considerably better than last year's 4.97 ERA which was the highest in the league over the course of 162 contests.