Peavy returns for White Sox in matchup with Braves

Jake Peavy makes his return to the Chicago White Sox rotation on Saturday afternoon in the middle portion of a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves.

Peavy has not pitched for the White Sox since June 4 due to a fractured left rib. He is 6-4 with a 4.30 earned run average in 11 starts this season, allowing a total of 12 runs and 15 hits over just 6 1/3 innings of his two most recent outings, both road losses.

The right-hander, who could be dealt by the White Sox ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, threw a 76-pitch simulated game prior to a rehab start ahead of his return.

"Excited to get back out," said Peavy, "but at the same time, you know you've got to be smart with knowing that my feel is probably not quite up to par with what it is and obviously stamina, but that's something we're working on and we'll monitor closely (Saturday)."

Peavy, 32, is 2-4 lifetime versus the Braves in seven starts with a 3.97 ERA.

While Peavy gets to make his return in front of the home fans, Paul Maholm looks to put some road issues behind him in today's start for Atlanta.

Maholm is 9-8 with a 3.98 ERA in 19 starts this season, including a 1.93 ERA in seven outings at home. However, in his 12 road starts he is just 4-6 with a 5.37 ERA.

The lefty dropped his final two starts before the break -- both on the road -- and matched his second-shortest outing of the season last Wednesday when he only lasted 4 1/3 frames at Miami.

Maholm gave up all four of his runs in the first inning and exited having yielded seven hits and five walks in total.

"Obviously in the first inning I wasn't in rhythm," Maholm admitted. "The first inning was what it was. I was fighting it and they capitalized."

The 31-year-old is 1-2 in his career versus the White Sox with a 4.66 ERA in three meetings.

The Braves had lost five straight to the White Sox, including a three-game sweep at Chicago in the most recent encounter in 2010, but took last night's opener 6-4 behind Brian McCann's three-run homer in the sixth inning.

McCann took the 11th pitch offered from White Sox starter John Danks deep to continue his recent surge at the plate. He has homered in three straight while batting .426 with five home runs and 14 RBI over the past 14 games.

"Made a bad pitch. Kind of got to the point where, for a lack of better way of putting it, ran out of things to throw to him," said Danks.

The Braves, who own a 6 1/2-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies for first place in the NL East, were without Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman due to injury. However, Freeman is expected to start on Saturday as he recovers from a jammed thumb that forced him to miss the All-Star Game, while Heyward is also close to coming back from a hamstring strain that has sidelined him since July 11.

Atlanta opened the second half without B.J. Upton as the outfielder is on the DL due to a strained right adductor muscle.

The White Sox, meanwhile, sit last in the AL Central and have lost three straight as well as eight of their past 11. That won't stop manager Robin Ventura from keeping his club working hard and he pulled outfielder Alex Rios from Friday's game early after Rios failed to run hard to first on a double play.

"That was very related. We expect more than that. It was simple. Nothing more than that," said Ventura of Rios' departure. "

There's just expectations, and we're not starting the second half off that way. It was simple. He'll be back in. But tonight, that's what happens when you don't run."

Rios, who could also draw trade interest, drove in two runs prior to his early exit.