The Texas Rangers have been road warriors of late, but another victory won't come easily against the surging Chicago White Sox when the teams begin a three-game set Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Rangers, who lead Oakland by 2 1/2 games in the American League West standings, are trying to tie a club record with their ninth straight road win as they play 12 of their next 15 games as the visiting team.
"We've just played well on the road," manager Ron Washington said. "We expect to play well at home, but it's nice to play well on the road. I hope we can continue to play well."
Elvis Andrus delivered a ninth-inning sacrifice fly in Texas' 5-4 win over the Astros on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep. The Rangers have won 12 of 15 since leading home run hitter Nelson Cruz (27 HR) received a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.
"That's how you can become consistent," Washington said. "If guys can just keep going up there, putting the ball in play and finding holes and getting base hits and we can keep going first to third, that's just playing right into the game we want to play anyway."
The last-place White Sox have also found success recently on the road, where they have won a season-best six in a row to wrap up a 6-1 trip. They are coming off Thursday's 4-3 victory over Kansas City on Conor Gillaspie's solo shot to lead off the 12th inning. Paul Konerko was scratched from the lineup with light-headedness and his status for Friday is unclear.
Former White Sox players A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios are both making their first visits to U.S. Cellular Field since joining the Rangers.
"It will be weird going into the visitors' clubhouse, but I'm looking forward to going to the city," Pierzynski said. "I love the city, I love the organization and I love the fans. Hopefully, we'll go in there and play well."
Chris Sale gets the start for Chicago in Friday's series opener. The left- hander ranks fifth in the AL in ERA (2.78), but has only a 9-11 record to show for it, as he is last in the majors in average run support.
However, the southpaw has earned victories in each of his last three outings, including Saturday in Minnesota, where he allowed three runs in seven innings and racked up eight strikeouts. He boasts a 1.93 ERA over his last three starts after going 1-9 over his previous 11 outings.
For Texas, left-hander Martin Perez is also seeking his fourth victory in as many tries. Like Sale, Perez yielded three runs over seven innings his last time out. Unlike Sale, he did it by outpitching Seattle's Felix Hernandez and also got five runs of support from his offense in the second inning.
"I have to keep working," Perez said. "I don't have to change my mentality because we beat the Mariners and Felix Hernandez. I'm learning from every outing."
The White Sox won two out of three when these teams met in Texas from April 30-May 2.