White Sox aim to avoid 4th straight loss in clash with Rays

President Barack Obama may have put the jinx on his Chicago White Sox a few days ago when he told a crowd in Woodbridge, Va., they would meet the Washington Nationals in the World Series.

The White Sox could miss the playoffs all together with losses in three straight and eight of nine games. They look to get untracked tonight in the second portion of a four-game series versus the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays.

Evan Longoria's solo home run off of Brett Myers in the top of the ninth proved to be the difference in a 3-2 decision and pushed Chicago two games back of the Detroit Tigers for the American League Central lead. Detroit won its fourth in a row against Kansas City on Thursday.

White Sox starter Jake Peavy struck out six and gave up two runs over 7 1/3 innings in the no-decision. Kevin Youkilis had three hits and Dayan Viciedo drove in a run for the White Sox, who are 1-3 on a seven-game homestand.

"The efforts there, everybody's grinding, giving everything they've got, it's just not happening," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said.

The White Sox need a strong outing from Gavin Floyd this evening and the right-hander will make his fourth start since coming off the disabled list. Floyd is 1-2 since his return and was roughed up in Sunday's 4-1 loss at the La Angels of Anaheim, charged with four runs in six innings.

Floyd fell below the .500 mark at 10-11 in his 27th start and has a 4.56 earned run average in that span. He has pitched well at U.S. Cellular Field, going 7-4 with a 4.74 ERA in 16 starts, and is 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA in five career starts against the Rays.

Tampa Bay extended its season-high winning streak to eight games thanks to Longoria's big blast in the top of the ninth. The club was able to pull within two games of the final wild card berth in the American League, but the LA Angels of Anaheim also sit two games off the mark.

"It's one game. I hate to bring down the mood, but it doesn't put us ahead," Longoria said. "It brings us a little closer, but it doesn't guarantee anything."

Luke Scott finished 2-for-3 with a home run for the Rays, who last won eight straight from Sept. 24, 2011-April 8, 2012. Tampa Bay won a franchise-best 12 in a row from June 9-22, 2004.

Joel Peralta earned the win with a scoreless eighth inning and Fernando Rodney worked around a two-out base hit by Youkilis to record his 46th save of the season. James Shields pitched the first 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs and six hits with six Ks and four walks.

Jeremy Hellickson can keep the Rays' playoff hopes alive with a decent outing tonight and ended a five-start winless drought (0-2) his last time out in a 3-0 win over Toronto on Sunday. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year struck out six and allowed two walks over 5 2/3 shutout innings.

The win lifted his record to 9-10 in 29 starts with a 3,20 earned run average. In 12 starts on the road, Hellickson is 4-3 with a 2.93 ERA and has never faced the White Sox.

Chicago swept an early-season series against the Rays from May 28-30 and has won six of the past 10 matchups between the two clubs.