White Sox-Pirates Preview

The Chicago White Sox saw their longest winning streak of the

season end Sunday, but there’s every reason to believe they can

start a new one this week.

The next stop on Chicago’s nine-game interleague road trip

begins Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, where the plummeting Pirates

will try to snap an eight-game skid that’s dropped them into the NL

basement.

The White Sox (28-34) had outscored Detroit and the rival Cubs

30-9 last week for their first four-game run since early September.

They certainly pitched well enough to complete the sweep at Wrigley

Field, but Gavin Floyd got no help offensively.

He gave up three hits and struck out nine in going the distance,

but Ted Lilly and Carlos Marmol combined on a one-hitter to beat

the White Sox 1-0.

Manager Ozzie Guillen’s club figures to have a good chance to

bounce back quickly against Pittsburgh (23-40), which dropped five

of six at U.S. Cellular Field the past two seasons and is in its

worst rut since a nine-game slide from Aug. 28-Sept. 5.

Freddy Garcia (6-3, 4.82 ERA) gets the ball for the opener,

looking for his fourth straight win and seventh in eight starts.

Garcia got Chicago’s winning streak started Wednesday, when he gave

up three runs over seven innings in a 15-3 victory against the

Tigers.

“He always takes his game up to the next level when he’s facing

a good-hitting team,” Guillen told the White Sox’s official

website. “He knows he can’t play around. In the past, when he was

in Seattle, he always wanted to be in the big ones. I think he

likes to compete against the best.”

Garcia is 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against the Pirates,

whom he hasn’t faced since 2006.

No one, however, would deem Pittsburgh a good-hitting team right

now. The Pirates have scored a major league-low 204 runs, and are

hitting .226 during their current slide, which was extended with a

4-3 loss at Detroit on Sunday.

“We squared some balls up, just in the wrong spot,” said

outfielder Garrett Jones, who at .348 with five homers since May 31

is one of Pittsburgh’s only hot hitters. “It seems like that’s

happened a lot lately. When we do hit the ball hard, it’s right at

people or bad timing. We’re just in a rut right now.”

The Pirates’ offensive struggles have led to speculation that

top prospect Pedro Alvarez could be called up to face the White

Sox, and general manager Neal Huntington indicated Sunday that the

third baseman’s major league arrival could happen this week.

Pittsburgh’s top pitching prospect will make his home debut

after getting his first taste of the majors Wednesday at

Washington. Brad Lincoln (0-0, 7.50) had an up-and-down outing,

allowing five runs and seven hits over six innings in a 7-5

loss.

“I hope that I can impress,” Lincoln told the Pirates’ official

website. “… For me, I’m going to treat it just like any other

game and go out there, do what I do and hope to come out with a

win. It will be exciting. It will probably be just like my first

start.”

Lincoln could be catching the White Sox at the right time of

day. Chicago is the majors’ worst-hitting team (.235) under the

lights, one point behind the Pirates.