Tigers-White Sox preview

CHICAGO -- James Shields is pitching considerably better for the Chicago White Sox -- but he's been unable to pick up a victory in his last two starts due to zero run support.

Shields will try to continue his progress as he takes the mound for the opener of a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night in Chicago.

The right-hander allowed three runs in his last 15 2/3 innings in a 2-0 loss to the National League-worst Braves and a 1-0 defeat to the Angels. Shields gave up nine runs in his last 33 1/3 innings after surrendering 21 runs in 8 2/3 innings in his first three starts with the White Sox, who acquired him from the Padres on June 4.

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"When you're going bad, you have all these people telling you what you're doing wrong," Shields told the Chicago Tribune. "'You need to fix this. You need to fix that.' But I've never been one of those guys who's been like I need to get complete 180 fixed, maybe little things here and there in the bullpen sessions.

"I go out there with my heart on my sleeve, and I go out and compete the best I can on the mound," he added. "Having that mentality of not thinking about my last outing, I've always been that way, so that's where I got back to."

Shields will have to deal with extreme conditions Thursday -- the forecast is predicting highs in the 90s. The ball can travel when the temperature heats up at U.S. Cellular Field.

"I just make sure I'm hydrated," Shields said. "I'm in condition, so I feel pretty good about it. The main thing is to not cramp up and stay hydrated."

Home-field advantage could be a welcome change for the reeling White Sox (46-48), who are fourth in the American League Central. Capped by a 6-5 extra-inning loss on Wednesday in Seattle, the team is coming off a 1-5 road trip against the Angels and Mariners to open the second half of the season.

"It is tough, especially when you're leading both the ones that you lose late," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Those are always tough to be able to bounce back. Our guys have bounced back. You just need to be able to add on (runs)."

The White Sox will play a six-game homestand against the Tigers and National League Central-leading Cubs.

The Tigers (49-46) lost two straight to the American League-worst Twins and are 3-3 in the second half, 7 1/2 games behind the division-leading Indians in the American League Central.

"We weren't overlooking them," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told after losing the series finale to the Twins 4-1 on Wednesday. "We're just in a funk offensively, to be honest with you. It started before they arrived."

Right-hander Mike Pelfrey (2-9) is scheduled to start for Detroit. He allowed four runs in six innings in his last start against the White Sox on June 15 for a loss. He has won just one of his last eight outings.

"My job doesn't change," Pelfrey told about the expected hot weather in Chicago. "Throw strikes and execute pitches."