Royals’ Vargas looks to break out of second-half slump against White Sox

Jason Vargas is is 1-3 with a 6.94 ERA in five starts since the break.

CHICAGO — The Kansas City Royals will try to climb back above .500 when they play the Chicago White Sox in the rubber match of a three-game set Sunday afternoon.

Kansas City (58-58) is feeling better after a comeback win Saturday night that snapped a five-game losing streak. Now, the Royals hope to start a run as they remain fixated on a possible playoff berth.

“We know how good we can be, and we know we weren’t playing good baseball (up until Saturday),” Royals veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “We’ve just got to carry this momentum into (Sunday) and take it for the rest of this road trip — and get back home in front of the fans and keep this thing rolling.”

Meanwhile, Chicago (45-69) will try to claim a series victory one day after its four-game win streak came to an end. White Sox pitchers have posted four straight quality starts, which is the longest streak of the season.

Royals left-hander Jason Vargas (13-6 3.40 ERA) made his first All-Star appearance this year but has struggled since. He is 1-3 with a 6.94 ERA in five starts since the break. He needs one more victory to match his career high of 14, which he set in 2012 with the Seattle Mariners.

In 12 career appearances (11 starts) against the White Sox, Vargas is 2-3 with a 5.92 ERA. He has faced Chicago three times this season, going 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA. He allowed two runs in five innings in his last matchup July 22.

For the White Sox, left-hander Derek Holland (6-11, 5.25 ERA) is eyeing back-to-back victories after limiting the Houston Astros to three runs over 5 2/3 innings in his last outing.

In 10 career appearances (eight starts) against the Royals, Holland is 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA. He already has faced Kansas City twice this season, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.18 ERA.

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer will try to maintain the success that he has enjoyed against Holland in his career. He is 6-for-15 with a home run, double and two RBIs. Others have not fared as well against Holland, including Mike Moustakas (1-for-7) and Lorenzo Cain (2-for-9).

Royals outfielder Melky Cabrera carries an eight-game hitting streak into Sunday’s game. Cabrera, who clubbed a go-ahead home run Saturday to sting his former teammates, has three home runs in 13 games with the Royals.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is 4 for 8 against Vargas. Jose Abreu is 3 for 10 with an RBI and Avisail Garcia is 1 for 6.

White Sox rookie outfielder Nicky Delmonico has a nine-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in each of his first 11 games in the big leagues — a franchise record.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria has liked what he has seen from his club during the past week.

“I’m more impressed with the way they’re playing the game,” Renteria said. “The way they’re approaching at-bats, some of the defensive plays they’re making, the things they’re doing on the bases. If they can maintain that consistency, that’s what gives you a chance for winning ballgames.”