While the Chicago White Sox have battled inconsistencies on offense this season, their pitching hasn't been a problem.
Gavin Floyd has been a big reason for that success.Floyd looks to turn in another strong performance on Thursday as he tries to lead the White Sox to their first three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates.Heading into this series, Chicago (40-31) hit .222 and scored only 14 runs while losing five of six games. The first two contests of this series, however, have seen the White Sox bat .397 (29-for-73) and outscore Pittsburgh (34-38) 24-7 in winning both games.On Wednesday, backup catcher Toby Hall homered for the first time since June 4, 2006 and Nick Swisher drove in two runs in an 8-2 win. Brian Anderson and Carlos Quentin also went deep for the White Sox, who lead the AL with 94 homers this season.That offensive performance was more than enough for Mark Buehrle, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and limited the Pirates to four hits over eight innings."Everybody has to contribute," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Everybody has a job to do and has to chip in a little bit for us to be where we want to be."The White Sox were able to maintain their 4 1/2-game lead on second-place Minnesota in the AL Central with the win. A pitching staff that ranks among the best in the majors with a 3.34 ERA is largely responsible for Chicago's first-place standing.Floyd (7-3, 3.30 ERA) has been a major contributor to that success, and has a chance to become his team's first eight-game winner.The White Sox have won each of Floyd's last four starts. He came away without a decision on Friday after allowing four runs -- all on homers -- and four hits over 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 home win over Colorado.The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two career interleague starts, and won his only appearance versus the Pirates on April 30, 2006, while with Philadelphia.While the White Sox were without injured first baseman Paul Konerko (strained left oblique muscle) for a second straight game on Wednesday, they improved to 6-2 in interleague play, a stark contrast to last year's 4-14 mark against the NL.Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has dropped four of five contests versus AL opponents, and now hopes to avoid its first three-game losing streak since May 18-21.The club has lost four of five -- all on the road -- and has posted a 13-23 mark away from home. The Pirates have struggled in Chicago all season, losing seven of eight games there, including a 1-5 record against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.They are hoping to turn their fortunes around behind Phil Dumatrait (3-3, 3.84).The left-hander did not receive a decision Friday at Baltimore in his first interleague appearance. He allowed five runs, five hits and five walks in five innings of a 9-6 loss.Pittsburgh catcher Ryan Doumit sat out Wednesday's game with a slight concussion after he was hit in the mask by foul balls three times during Tuesday's loss. Doumit, hitting .341 with nine homers and 22 RBIs, is expected to miss at least two days.