Orioles-White Sox preview

CHICAGO -- The Baltimore Orioles cling to a slim lead in the American League East, while the Chicago White Sox are trying to avoid tumbling further down the AL Central standings.

The teams meet for a three-game series starting Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Orioles (61-46) lead the Toronto Blue Jays in the division by percentage points after taking two of three against West leader Texas.

"I was impressed with how well our guys pitched against them because that's a tough lineup to go through and stay engaged in the game," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's the type of thing we're going to have be able to do to get where we want to go."

Since the All-Star break, Baltimore is 10-10. While the Orioles own the best home record in the majors at 39-17, on the road they're just 22-29 and have lost seven of their last nine.

The series could be interesting in terms of power. The Orioles top the majors with 161 home runs -- including 31 by right fielder Mark Trumbo, who has one more than White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier for the most in all of baseball. And U.S. Cellular Field can be a hitter-friendly park.

The White Sox (52-56) are 7-13 in the second half and are returning from an eight-game road trip after dropping two of three to the Detroit Tigers. Chicago is 10 games behind AL Central leader Cleveland and seven games back in the wild card race.

The White Sox and Baltimore split four games April 28-May 1 in Baltimore.

For the Orioles, right-hander Yovani Gallardo (3-3, 5.70 ERA) is expected to start. He is winless in six starts since June 29. Gallardo allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings against Toronto in his last start Saturday. In 11 career innings against the White Sox, he has given up one unearned run.

Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (2-5, 4.06 ERA) is scheduled to start for the White Sox in his first meeting with his former team. Baltimore released him during spring training after he posted a 9.78 ERA in six starts. Gonzalez was 39-33 with a 3.82 ERA in four seasons with the Orioles. Last month, Gonzalez went 1-2 with a 2.50 ERA and pitched six innings or more in all six starts.

The White Sox are hoping first baseman Jose Abreu is heating up. He homered in Thursday's 6-3 victory over the Tigers for his first drive since June 23. He has 12 home runs after hitting 30 last season.

"It has been a long time and somewhere in there it has been dragging on him," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "His swings today were great. He's been hitting a lot of balls right on the nose, which is a good sign for him.

"The last few days we've seen the ball jump off his bat, not chasing a lot of stuff. He looks pretty comfortable at the plate and everything coming off his bat is pretty solid."

As far as injuries, White Sox rookie shortstop Tim Anderson is day to day after suffering a bruised left hand Thursday.

"It was relieving to get those X-rays negative," Anderson said.