The Chicago White Sox are enduring their longest road losing streak in five years, so visiting the Seattle Mariners for a three-game series may be a relief.
Giving the ball to John Danks may also help.
With Paul Konerko expected back in the lineup, Danks and the White Sox look to continuing their dominance of the Mariners in the opener of this three-game series Monday night.
Chicago (24-30) has lost seven in a row on the road for the first time since a nine-game skid from May 30-June 22, 2008. The current slide is also part of six-game overall losing streak, and the White Sox haven't had a longer won since dropping seven straight from Sept. 11-17, 2011.
Their recent struggles continued as they were outscored 9-3 during a three-game sweep at Oakland, capped with a 2-0 defeat Sunday.
"Any time you lose, you feel like energy is part of it," manager Robin Ventura told the team's official website. "It can zap you when you go through stretches like this. You have to find a way to get it. Winning, there seems to always be energy in winning. You have to have it even if you go through a tough stretch, too."
The White Sox haven't had many issues when facing Seattle (24-33) - winning 26 of the past 31 games over the past three years - including two of three at home from April 5-7. They're 10-2 in their last 12 games at Safeco Field, winning eight straight behind a 1.73 ERA and .292 average.
Danks (0-1, 5.40 ERA) has played a key role, going 7-0 with a 1.31 ERA in eight starts versus the Mariners, including a 4-0 record in five visits to Seattle.
The veteran left-hander hasn't been sharp in two starts since returning from shoulder surgery. He lost the most recent one Wednesday, giving up four runs and two homers in four innings of a 9-3 road defeat to the Chicago Cubs .
"The fastball isn't quite where it was," Danks told the team's official website. "It's plenty, but it's not quite where it was. I anticipate that getting better. The more velocity I get, the better it makes my changeup and cutter."
Konerko may be looking forward to visiting Safeco after sitting out one game with a stiff neck. He's hitting .434 over his last 13 games there and owns a .381 average in 30 overall meetings with the Mariners.
The six-time All-Star enters this series 10 for 27 (.370) in eight games, raising his season average 23 points to .240.
Gordon Beckham may also be back in the lineup after Chicago activated him from the disabled list on Sunday. The second baseman was 6 for 19 through the first seven games before suffering a fractured hamate bone in his left hand on April 9 at Washington.
His return could mean the White Sox will have to find somewhere else to put Jeff Keppinger , who has filled in at second and is hitting .386 over the past 13 games.
The Mariners have dropped 12 of 16 after being held to five singles in Sunday's 10-0 loss at Minnesota.
Joe Saunders (3-5, 5.57) is expected to get the ball, and he's 9-1 with a 2.23 ERA in 14 starts at Safeco. The left-hander is 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA in five games at Seattle this year compared to 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in six road outings.
Saunders has lost his last two starts against Chicago, allowing 12 runs in 11 innings.
Kendrys Morales is hitting .411 with seven doubles, three homers and 14 RBIs in 13 games, and he has a .444 average over his last 10 meetings with Chicago. However, he's 1 for 9 versus Danks.
|Chicago White Sox|
|May 30, 2013||Dewayne Wise||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 22, 2013||Chris Sale||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|May 02, 2013||Dewayne Wise||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|May 02, 2013||Jake Peavy||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|April 28, 2013||Gavin Floyd||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|April 22, 2013||Hector Gimenez||Day-to-Day||Left shin|
|June 01, 2013||Jesus Montero||Day-to-Day||Torn left meniscus|
|May 30, 2013||Justin Smoak||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|May 16, 2013||Aaron Harang||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|April 23, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 22, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Torn right hamstring|
|April 15, 2013||Stephen Pryor||60-Day DL||Torn right lat muscle|
SEATTLE (AP) -- After getting himself in a two-strike hole, Raul Ibanez did everything he could to stay in the at-bat against John Danks .
For a dozen pitches, Ibanez hung in there. On the 13th pitch he won the struggle, hitting his 10th homer for the decisive runs in the Seattle Mariners ' 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
"At that point you just forget about the count, you forget about everything that's happening," Ibanez said. "At one point in the box, I said, `I think that's 3-2.' Then I said to myself, `It doesn't matter. At this point, it doesn't matter. You're just fighting."'
After swinging and missing at the first two pitches he saw in the third inning, Ibanez fouled off the next three before taking a ball. He fouled off four more before hitting the 13th pitch into the right-field seats for a two-run shot.
According to the team, it was the most pitches a Mariners hitter had seen before homering since at least 1988.
"I just ran out of ideas," Danks said. "We threw hard away, soft away, hard in, soft in. I thought I had him looking in, and threw a cutter away and it was up a little more than I like."
The White Sox have lost seven straight games, their longest slide since dropping seven in a row in September 2011. Chicago had won its previous eight games in Seattle, but even the formerly friendly venue and a starting pitcher with a history of success against the Mariners couldn't stop the losing streak.
Danks (0-2) allowed four runs - three earned - and seven hits in six innings, striking out five and walking one in his third start of the year. The defeat snapped Danks' seven-game winning streak against the Mariners - in his last eight starts against Seattle, he was 7-0 with a 1.31 ERA.
Seattle starter Joe Saunders (4-5) returned to his winning ways at Safeco Field , allowing one run and five hits in 6 1-3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. Saunders is 10-1 at the Mariners' ballpark. The lone loss came in his previous home start against Texas on May 24, when he gave up eight runs in five innings.
"First and foremost, it's nice to get a win to start off a series," Saunders said. "We've been kind of struggling of late."
The Mariners snapped their own two-game skid. Tom Wilhelmsen , who had blown three of his last four save opportunities, gave up a two-out RBI single to Adam Dunn in the ninth but earned his 13th save.
"It's nice for once to see things go the right way in the ninth," Wilhelmsen said.
Wilhelmsen walked Alex Rios leading off the inning but regrouped to strike out the next two batters before Dunn's hit.
"You can't try too hard, or you're going to overthrow and walk people like I've been," Wilhelmsen said. "Just relax and know you've done it before, and just try to stick with that. That was something I told myself today."
In the third inning, Kyle Seager beat out a bunt single and Kendrys Morales drove him home with a double off the center-field wall before Ibanez capped the inning with his long at-bat and home run.
"That was one of the best at-bats I've ever seen up there," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "Left on left, him fighting through so many different pitches, fouling them off, tough pitches - neither guy was giving in. For Raul to get him in the end there, that was pretty special."
Chicago opened the scoring in the second. Dayan Viciedo hit a bloop double to center and scored on Jeff Keppinger 's single.
Seattle answered in the bottom half when Jesus Sucre 's RBI single tied it at 1.
NOTES: White Sox bench coach Mark Parent was ejected by plate umpire Dale Scott in the seventh. ... The Mariners held a short, closed-door team meeting before taking batting practice. "I just wanted to talk about where we're at," Wedge said. "We've had a lot of tough losses these first couple months, more so than I've seen, and I'm proud of the way they've handled it." ... Seattle OF Franklin Gutierrez (right hamstring strain) ended his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma, but remains on the disabled list. Mariners head athletic trainer Rick Griffin said Gutierrez still has lingering hamstring issues, and the Mariners plan to put him on another rehab assignment. ... The White Sox activated infielder Gordon Beckham from the 15-day disabled list and designated infielder Tyler Greene for assignment.