A's begin set in Chicago

The Oakland Athletics will spend some time away from home over the next few days and are set to kick off a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Athletics will also visit Kansas City on their six-game trek and went 5-5 on a recent homestand. It took two of three matchups with the LA Angels of Anaheim and is coming off Wednesday's 9-8 win in which Chris Carter and George Kottaras both homered and finished with two RBI. Kottaras hit his first home run as a member of the A's and was acquired from Milwaukee late last month.

Yoenis Cespedes also knocked in two runs and Coco Crisp went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored for the Athletics, who are 5 1/2 games behind Texas for the lead in the American League West standings and improved to 17-8 since the All-Star break.

Dan Straily allowed five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings and Pat Neshek picked up the win. Ryan Cook gave Oakland a bit of a scare by surrendering two runs and three hits in the ninth, before locking up his 12th save.

"I had more confidence today and felt I had better stuff, I just made way too many mistakes and paid for them," Straily said. "But our offense decided to put up nine runs, and that's a team win right there. I've started two games, and we got two wins on those days. It's definitely a lot of fun to watch."

Oakland went 4-2 on its last road trip and is expected to activate Brandon McCarthy off the disabled list in time to start Friday's game. McCarthy was placed on the DL June 24, retroactive to June 20, with a strained right shoulder and made two rehab appearances with Triple-A Sacramento, going 0-1 with a 5.59 earned run average.

McCarthy is riding a six-game winning streak to go along with a 1.96 ERA in his last seven starts, and tossed seven shutout innings of two-hit ball in a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 19. He is 6-3 in 12 starts with a 2.54 ERA and will face Chicago for the third time in his career. The righty, who is taking the rotation spot of the injured A.J. Griffin, is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in the first two appearances.

"He's very efficient with his pitches," A's pitching coach Curt Young said on the club's website. "That's the key to his game. He gets a lot of early outs and makes things happen quick."

Chicago will resume a nine-game homestand this evening and sits just a game ahead of Detroit for the AL Central lead.

The White Sox lost two of three matchups with the Royals and dropped a 2-1 decision on Wednesday, as Jose Quintana was saddled with the loss for allowing two runs in seven innings of work.

"We couldn't get anything going," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Until the ninth, it didn't seem like we were mounting anything."

A.J. Pierzynski had two hits and an RBI to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Alex Rios did not play in the loss to Kansas City and is riding a nine- game hitting streak. Slugger Adam Dunn is still three RBI shy of 1,000 in his career for the White Sox, who are 3-3 on the homestand and fell to 13-3 in their last 17 games at U.S. Cellular Field.

Rios is batting .346 (91-263) with 17 home runs, 52 RBI and 57 runs scored in 66 games since May 23. He owns 18 homers and 67 RBI this season.

The White Sox, who own a 43-29 mark since mid-May, are scheduled to send Gavin Floyd to the mound tonight and he is 0-1 in two starts since winning four of five trips to the hill. Floyd was banged around in a 6-5 loss to the LA Angels on Saturday and did not record a decision for giving up five runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Floyd, a right-hander, hopes to get back to .500 and is 8-9 in 20 starts with a 4.43 earned run average. He lost to the A's back on April 24 and is 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA in eight career starts against them. Floyd has pitched well lately at home and is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA in his past four starts there.

Chicago dropped two of three matchups with Oakland from April 23-25 at the Coliseum, but is 5-3 in the previous eight contests in this series.