After a successful stretch without their captain, the Chicago White Sox will have Paul Konerko back in the lineup to start the weekend, although he hasn't been much help against the Kansas City Royals this year.
Konerko and the White Sox will look to start playing better against the Royals, who host a three-game AL Central series beginning Friday night.
Chicago hit five home runs, including a three-run shot by Alex Rios in the eighth, for a 7-2 win over Toronto on Thursday, taking three of four games from the Blue Jays. The White Sox have hit 28 homers in their last 13 games.
"Given the time of year and the situation we're in where every game means so much, to come in here and win three out of four is huge," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
Central-leading Chicago (65-52) improved to 5-3 without Konerko, who was placed on the 7-day concussion list last Friday after being elbowed in the head Aug. 7 by Kansas City's Jarrod Dyson on a play at first base.
Konerko is the designated hitter and batting cleanup for this game.
However, he is hitting .161 with one homer and two RBIs in eight games against the Royals this season as the White Sox have gone 4-5 versus the fourth-place club in their own division.
Kansas City won two of three in Chicago last week, although the White Sox did take two of three at Kauffman Stadium in July.
Youkilis enters the weekend one hit shy of 1,000 in his career while Adam Dunn remains stuck on 399 career homers after going 0 for 2 on Thursday.
The White Sox will go for their fourth straight win Friday when they hand the ball to Chris Sale (14-3, 2.60 ERA), who is also riding a personal three-game winning streak.
Sale struck out 11 and gave up two runs on a pair of homers over 6 2-3 innings of a 7-3 victory over Oakland on Sunday. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts against the Royals this year, winning the last two.
Kansas City (51-66) failed to complete a three-game sweep of the Athletics this week, dropping the finale 3-0 on Thursday.
Probable Royals starter Luis Mendoza (6-8, 4.37) will oppose Sale for the third time this season. He was on the losing end of both of Sale's victories over Kansas City, yielding a total of six runs over 14 2-3 innings.
Mendoza also earned a win over the White Sox in May with 5 2-3 innings of one-run relief.
Mendoza is looking to win back-to-back starts for the first time in 2012. The right-hander allowed three runs in six innings of a 7-3 victory over Baltimore on Saturday.
|Alejandro De Aza||3||.333||1||0||0||0||1||.333||.666||.333|
|Chicago White Sox|
|August 12, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Sore left forearm|
|August 08, 2012||Paul Konerko||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
|August 08, 2012||Alex Rios||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|August 08, 2012||Paul Konerko||Day-to-Day||Mild concussion|
|August 07, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 06, 2012||Alejandro De Aza||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|Kansas City Royals|
|July 28, 2012||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right knee|
|July 05, 2012||Luke Hochevar||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 07, 2012||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|May 26, 2012||Jarrod Dyson||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right hamstring injury|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Luis Mendoza is pitching so well the Kansas City Royals are having some fun with his unorthodox hairstyle.
Mendoza tossed seven effective innings, Salvador Perez hit a tiebreaking two-run double and the Royals rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.
Lorenzo Cain and Billy Butler each hit a solo homer as Kansas City won for the third time in four games.
Mendoza (7-8), who has shoulder-length hair, allowed two runs and four hits, struck out six and walked one. The 28-year-old right-hander improved to 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in August.
"It's kind of like his hair," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "His streak gets a little bit longer and a little bit fluffier as time goes on. I don't know what to say.
"What he's doing is attacking the strike zone with good natural movement on his fastball, which is tough to center. He's been very effective with his curveball and his changeup. You add all that up, he gets quick outs, goes deep into the games. I think we're seeing a lot of what they saw last year in the Pacific Coast League."
Mendoza (7-8) was the 2011 PCL pitcher of the year, but he entered this season with only six big league wins over parts of five seasons.
If Mendoza's long hair is the secret to his success, Butler doesn't care if he ever cuts it.
"Whatever it takes," said Butler, who hit his 25th home run. "He can do whatever he wants if he keeps throwing like that. He's strung quite a few starts together that have been real good. I think he's the best pitcher on our staff right now with the stuff that he's been throwing. He's going deep into the game every time out.
"Mendy threw fantastic. He got into a rhythm and was just pounding the strike zone. He had a real good curveball. He's been working on his off-speed stuff and throughout the season it has gotten a lot better."
Paul Konerko hit a solo drive for Chicago after being activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list. It was Konerko's first game since he was struck by a Jarrod Dyson elbow while covering first base on Aug. 7 against the Royals.
White Sox ace Chris Sale (14-4) allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. The 6-foot-6 left-hander dropped to 11-2 with a 2.60 ERA in his last 15 starts.
Gordon Beckham hit a two-out RBI single in the fifth to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead, but Butler belted a tying solo drive in the sixth.
The Royals grabbed the lead for good in the seventh. Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar hit consecutive one-out singles to put runners on corners. Escobar then stole second when Alex Gordon struck out for the second out.
After Butler was walked intentionally, Perez fell behind in the count 1-2 before rifling a double off the fence in left.
"He's just a big, strong guy who put his bat out there and got it," Sale said. "You have to give him credit."
Kelvin Herrera worked out of a jam in the eighth and Greg Holland finished for his fifth save in six opportunities.
The White Sox put runners on the corners with two down in the ninth, but Dayan Viciedo flied out to end the game.
Chicago got a scare in the first inning when a wicked Escobar one-hopper struck Sale in his pitching hand. That prompted a visit from manager Robin Ventura and a trainer, but Sale remained in the game after a couple of warmup pitches.
"At first I was a little scared, but I started moving it around and it was fine," Sale said. "After a couple of warmup pitches it was fine."
Royals second baseman Chris Getz broke his left thumb in the fifth inning when he was hit by a pitch while bunting foul. He is scheduled to have surgery Saturday and is done for the season.
NOTES: In addition to activating Konerko, the White Sox recalled LHP Hector Santiago from Triple-A Charlotte and placed INF Orlando Hudson (bruised left foot) and LHP Leyson Septimo (left biceps inflammation) on the 15-day DL. ... Butler started at first base for only the 12th time as regular 1B Eric Hosmer was held out of the lineup against Sale. .LHP Bruce Chen , who starts Saturday, is 4-4 against the White Sox, but all the victories have come at U.S. Cellular Field. RHP Jake Peavy , who is 1-4 with a 5.93 ERA in five starts at Kauffman Stadium, will be the White Sox starter.