All-Star southpaw Chris Sale makes his first second-half appearance today when the Chicago White Sox visit Kauffman Stadium for the rubber match of a three-game weekend series with the Kansas City Royals.
The 23-year-old Lakeland, Fla. native, chosen 13th overall by the White Sox in 2010, makes his second July start in the midst of a seven-decision win streak that began after a 5-0 loss to the Royals on May 12 in Chicago.
In that game, his first career start against Kansas City, Sale allowed three runs on seven hits across five innings.
In nine outings since, he's 7-0, has allowed two runs or less eight times and has seen his earned run average tumble from 3.08 to 2.19.
Additionally, Sale is 5-0 in eight road appearances in 2012.
In Saturday's second game of this set, Alcides Escobar hit two homers, including a go-ahead solo shot in the seventh inning, and the Royals defeated the White Sox, 6-3.
Escobar helped give Kansas City a 3-1 lead with a two-run blast in the third inning, then re-established the advantage in the seventh, jumping on the first offering from Jake Peavy (7-6) and sending it over the fence in left field.
"There was no excuse for that," Peavy said. "It was a sinker. I was getting tired. I'd run it over the plate. Not much on it and there's not much action on it. Just right in the barrel."
The White Sox, who won Friday's series-opener in 14 innings, battled back from the early deficit, tying the game in the sixth with a leadoff homer from Adam Dunn and a two-out, RBI triple from Dayan Viciedo.
But Dunn struck out an inning later with runners on first and second and Greg Holland (3-2) ended the threat by retiring Paul Konerko.
Peavy was charged for six runs on 12 hits over seven innings and fell to 1-5 in his last six outings. Royals starter Luke Hochevar countered with five- plus innings, allowing three runs on five hits in the no-decision.
Jeff Francoeur had an eighth-inning RBI single for Kansas City and Lorenzo Cain capped the scoring with a pinch-hit, sacrifice fly. Jonathan Broxton recorded his 22nd save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth.
"As a reliever, you can pitch every night. You've got to be able to have a short-term memory and turn the page. Get right back out there and that's what I was able to do," Broxton said.
The Royals start 28-year-old Mexican Luis Mendoza, a winner in three of four career decisions against Chicago, in Sunday's game.
The righty was a 9-1 winner when the teams met May 13 at U.S. Cellular Field, as he allowed a run on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts.
He's won just once in four decisions since, defeating Minnesota on June 29 while losing to the Twins and St. Louis Cardinals at home and at Toronto.
Mendoza is winless in seven home outings in 2012 while posting a 6.00 ERA in 33 innings.
Kansas City took two of three games in a May series in Chicago and won the 2011 season series, 11-7. The White Sox won the series in 2010, 10-8.