(AP) – Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s return to the dugout after after a two-game suspension wasn’t able to add a spark to the slumping White Sox.
With the offense reeling and the pitching staff inconsistent, Mark Buehrle hopes to snap out of his personal funk and help the White Sox avoid another sweep Monday night in the conclusion of a four-game set with the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
Guillen was back on the bench Sunday after a ban from Major League Baseball for posting messages about an umpire on his Twitter account when he was ejected from Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees. The White Sox (10-19) lost both games in his absence to Baltimore, and the team’s struggles continued Sunday with a 6-4 defeat – Chicago’s fifth straight.
A loss Monday would mark the fourth time the White Sox were swept in a series this season and the first time Baltimore completed a four-game sweep in Chicago since July 6-9, 1995.
The White Sox have scored four or less runs in 17 of their last 18 games, and only Brent Lillibridge – who homered Sunday – is batting above .300. Adam Dunn hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the eighth, but he’s hitting .171 with 31 strikeouts.
The pitching staff has struggled as well, ranking last in the AL with 149 runs allowed.
Paul Konerko, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI, believes things will turn around soon.
“Just because you go out and play hard doesn’t mean you’re going to win or get the hit,” he said. “But over the long haul, you’ve got to believe you will. I believe I will and I believe the team will.”
Buehrle (1-3, 5.12 ERA) may hope Konerko is correct. He’s lost his last three starts, allowing 13 runs and 24 hits in 17 2-3 innings. He gave up three runs over seven innings in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss at New York.
The left-hander also has lost three consecutive starts against Baltimore and is 5-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 16 career appearances versus the Orioles (13-13), winners of five of six.
Buehrle looks to slow a Baltimore offense which has scored 22 runs through the first three games of the series, though the Orioles have had some success against him.
Vladimir Guerrero is 12 for 33 (.364) with four home runs versus Buehrle, while Brian Roberts (13 for 39) and Nick Markakis (10 for 23) also have hit the left-hander well.
Markakis was hitless in his last 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position before his three-run double Sunday in the Orioles’ five-run fifth inning off White Sox starter Gavin Floyd extended Baltimore’s lead to 5-0.
“(Floyd) went away from his fastball, he threw a lot of cutters, slider and curveballs, you can almost go up there and sit on an offspeed pitch,” Markakis said. “The more pitches you can eliminate, the easier to hit.”
Jeremy Guthrie (1-3, 2.53) looks for his first win since April 1, though he pitched well in his most recent start. Guthrie went six scoreless innings Wednesday against Boston before Baltimore won 5-4.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA in his last four starts against Chicago. He’s held most of the current White Sox lineup at bay through his career, as Konerko is 5 for 24 (.208) while Alexei Ramirez, Omar Vizquel and Gordon Beckham are a combined 4 for 37 (.108) lifetime against Guthrie.
The Orioles have won six of the last eight meetings.
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