Venue: U.S. Cellular Field
A.J. Pierzynski and the Chicago White Sox hit for a lot of power over the weekend. Continuing that trend could make it especially easy for Chris Sale in his return to the mound.
Pitching on extended rest, Sale will go for his 13th win Monday night when the White Sox host the Kansas City Royals.
Chicago (59-48) took two of three from Los Angeles over the weekend, winning 4-2 Sunday for its ninth win in 12 games overall and 12th in 14 at home.
After Kevin Youkilis' third homer in two games knotted the game at 1, Pierzynski tied the franchise record by homering in his fifth straight game with a go-ahead two-run pinch-hit homer in the seventh.
The catcher is the sixth White Sox player since 1921 to homer in five straight games and first since Paul Konerko did so in 2011.
"I'm not supposed to be doing this so just ride it out as long as you can, enjoy it and have fun with it," said Pierzynski, who is 4 for 12 with a homer against scheduled Royals starter Luis Mendoza.
Pierzynski, whose 21 homers are a career high, is adding to the White Sox's power numbers. They are third in the majors with 134 homers after hitting eight in the series against the Angels and have 16 in their last six home games.
They continue their homestand against the Royals (45-62), with both teams taking two of three at home in their previous two series this season.
Sale (12-3, 2.61 ERA) goes in the opener of the three-game series, making his first start since July 27 against Texas, when he allowed five runs and struck out six in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-5 victory.
The White Sox are being cautious with their hard-throwing left-hander, who had given up five runs in each of his last two starts while his velocity dipped.
"I didn't expect myself to be throwing hard the entire time, especially getting into August and September," Sale, second in the AL in ERA, told the team's official website. "For right now, it's just finding a way."
Sale has split two starts against the Royals. On July 15, he allowed one run and a season-high 10 hits in eight innings of a 2-1 victory.
Mendoza (5-7, 4.32) lost to Sale last month, surrendering two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. He picked up a victory at Chicago in May and has won two of his last three starts overall after limiting Cleveland to two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win Wednesday.
The AL-worst Royals avoided being swept by Texas with a 7-6 win in 10 innings Sunday. Eric Hosmer scored the winning run in the 10th on a throwing error - the second in the inning - as Kansas City overcame three errors of its own.
"Ugly, come on. How can you call that game ugly?" manager Ned Yost said. "It's a beautiful win. Against a team of that caliber and as hard fought as this series was and for us to come up with nothing going into today, it's a beautiful win."
The Royals open a seven-game road trip Monday. They have lost five straight and 14 of 17 away from home, and their starters are 3-12 with a 7.17 ERA over those 17 road games.
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