Bruce Chen takes aim at his first win in more than a month this evening when the Kansas City Royals continue a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chen's winless streak reached seven starts on Thursday, as he allowed four runs and seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings. He escaped without a decision in his team's 7-6 win, but remained 7-9 on the year, while his ERA jumped to 5.66.
"He might have thrown three pitches over 85 miles an hour," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Everything's soft and he's just not throwing the ball real well right now. He needs to pick his game up. To not be able to get out of the third inning, we need to do better than that."
Over the course of his career, Chen's 19 wins in August are more than he has in any other month, and his 3.91 ERA is the lowest. He was particularly strong last season, going 5-1 in six August starts with a 3.19 ERA.
Chen has faced the White Sox 16 times (11 starts) and is 3-4 with a 3.81 ERA. He was 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three visits to Chicago last season.
Chicago, meanwhile, will counter with former National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy, who is 9-7 with a 3.04 ERA. Peavy won his second straight start on Wednesday in Minnesota, as he allowed an unearned run and five hits in eight innings. He also struck out eight and walked a pair.
Peavy lost to the Royals the last time he faced them and is 4-5 with a 4.92 ERA in 10 starts.
Chicago won Monday's opener, as Gordon Beckham belted the tie-breaking solo homer in the eighth inning to boost the White Sox to a 4-2 win. Paul Konerko also homered for the AL Central leaders, winners in four of their last five contests overall and 13 of 15 at home.
Kevin Youkilis added an RBI double in the eighth and Addison Reed worked out of a jam in the ninth to secure his 20th save of the year.
Chris Sale (13-3), working on extra rest, continued his success at home by fanning seven over eight strong innings. The 23-year-old left-hander is 5-0 with a 0.95 ERA over his last six starts at U.S. Cellular Field.
"He battles, he gets through it, he's sharp," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Sale. "He's athletic."
Luis Mendoza (5-8) gave up seven hits and four runs over 7 1/3 innings as the Royals lost their sixth in a row on the road.
Chicago has won four of seven games against the Royals this season.