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Mets' Wheeler gets nod in opener with White Sox

The second of the New York Mets' most prized pitching prospects - 23-year-old righty Zack Wheeler - takes the mound for the second time in his career on Tuesday when the Mets visit U.S. Cellular Field for the opening half of a two-game interleague series with the Chicago White Sox.

A native of Smyrna, Ga., Wheeler was drafted sixth overall by the San Francisco Giants in 2009 and spent parts of three seasons in the organization before he headed to New York as part of the deal that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants.

Wheeler was 12-10 in his initial two seasons in the minors, then went 12-8 in 2012 while splitting time between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Buffalo.

He was 4-2 in 13 starts with Triple-A Las Vegas to open the 2013 season, then defeated the Atlanta Braves, 6-1, in his big-league debut with the Mets on June 18 in Atlanta.

Wheeler tossed six scoreless innings in that outing, walking five batters, allowing four hits and striking out seven.

He's opposed by 24-year-old lefty Chris Sale, who was the 13th overall pick of the 2010 draft and reached the majors with the White Sox later that season.

Sale spent 2011 in the bullpen and made 58 appearances with a 2.79 earned run average, then transitioned to starting in 2012 and won 17 games in 25 decisions while recording a 3.05 ERA in 192 innings.

Sale was 5-2 through his initial nine starts this season, but has since dropped four consecutive outings while the White Sox have managed just eight runs in support.

He's allowed nine earned runs in 26 1/3 innings across those four starts, including a 14-strikeout performance at Houston on June 14 that Chicago nonetheless lost, 2-1.

Sale has never faced the Mets.

On Sunday in Philadelphia, New York's other phenom, Matt Harvey (7-1), gave up two hits and fanned six in the Mets' 8-0 defeat of the Phillies.

He also doubled in a run.

"We're going to get really tired of talking about how good this guy has a chance to become," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

David Wright slammed four extra-base hits, finishing with a home run, a triple and a pair of doubles. Wright knocked in two and scored twice.

"He's tired and beat up a little bit, yet he rises when you need him," Collins said of Wright. "I've been around some stars, this guy is as good as any of those guys were."

Eric Young, Jr. had three hits and scored two runs in the win.

In Kansas City, the Royals used a three-run, two-out rally in the eighth inning to beat the White Sox, 7-6, and salvage the finale of a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium.

Mike Moustakas and David Lough each opened the inning with singles off Jesse Crain (2-2), who had a scoreless streak of 29 straight appearances snapped. Elliot Johnson's sacrifice bunt loaded the bases due to a Crain error, and after the reliever fanned the next two batters, Alex Gordon drew a walk to score Moustakas.

Alcides Escobar then hit a grounder to Alexei Ramirez which hopped up and got past the shortstop to score two runs.

"That's baseball for you. If I make the bunt play, I could have been out of it. Then their ball finds a way to sneak through, so you've got to have a lot of luck to have a streak like that," said Crain. "Guys make the play behind you. Sometimes you've got to battle through things."

Adam Dunn finished 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBI for the White Sox.

The White Sox have won three of five games the teams have played since initially meeting in 2002. Chicago split a brief two-game set at Citi Field in New York on May 7 and 8.