An extended rough stretch is the last thing the Chicago White Sox need at this point in the season.
The AL Central leaders try to avoid a fourth consecutive loss Saturday night against a Los Angeles Angels club looking to remain a serious postseason contender.If Chicago (81-69) is to maintain its perch atop the division, it must find a way to plate some runs after totaling eight in the last four games. The White Sox scored three while losing the final two of a three-game set at Kansas City then were held to five hits and struck out 12 times during Friday's 6-2 loss at Los Angeles.Chicago's division lead is down to 1 1/2 games over Detroit, which had its Friday contest with Minnesota postponed due to rain."We just have to make it (to the postseason) somehow," reliever Matt Thornton told the White Sox's official website. "It would be a luxury right now to clinch a playoff spot, but we don't have that luxury."Los Angeles (82-69), meanwhile, has won five of eight and sits 3 1/2 games behind Oakland for the AL's final wild-card spot."We got to take care of what we can control on the field," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "Things got to go our way outside of what we do on the field. It's doable."The Angels have outscored the White Sox 27-14 while winning four of five in Anaheim.Chicago's Alejandro De Aza had two hits, including a leadoff homer, in the opener but Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski went a combined 0 for 20 with eight strikeouts.Youkilis is batting .132 (9 for 68) in his last 19 games while Dunn is 2 for 19 with seven strikeouts in the last five. Youkilis and Dunn are a combined 6 for 30 (.200) against scheduled Angels starter Dan Haren (11-11, 4.41 ERA).The right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA following a four-start stretch where he went 0-2 with a 6.27 ERA. He allowed two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-3 win at Kansas City on Sunday. His lone loss over those last four outings came Sept. 10 at home where he's posted an 8.78 ERA while losing his three starts.Haren has never faced the White Sox in Anaheim but allowed a solo homer to Youkilis and three other hits over six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-2 win at Chicago on Aug. 5.He is 1-1 with a 3.64 ERA in five starts against the White Sox overall.Rookie Mike Trout hit his 28th homer and Hunter drove in two runs Friday for the Angels. Hunter is batting .379 with 21 RBIs in his last 22 games. With 120 runs, Trout became the first rookie to score at least that many since Ichiro Suzuki's 127 in 2001.Chicago rookie Jose Quintana (6-4, 3.69) makes his first appearance against the Angels on Saturday. The left-hander has been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox this season but is 1-2 with an 8.06 ERA in his last five starts.Quintana will pitch on an extra days' rest after he gave up four runs and seven hits in four innings of a 5-4 win over the Tigers on Monday.
Paul Konerko is 6-for-16 (.375) in his career facing Dan Haren, but all six hits are singles. That's tied with Aaron Laffey for his most hits against any pitcher without an extra-base hit.
Kevin Youkilis enters the weekend series with a career OPS of 1.003 at Angel Stadium, his best of any American League park.