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HOU@CWS: Sale fans seven over eight scoreless frames

The White Sox enter their second straight series against a first-place team with little momentum, having dropped their last two games to the AL East-leading Yankees. Chicago will look to Chris Sale to turn things around on Tuesday in the team's series opener against the Rangers, who sit atop the AL West.

Sale, named an All-Star on Sunday for the first time in his burgeoning career, seems to be an ideal candidate to get Chicago back on track.

The left-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his past seven starts, although strong pitching has been the story all season long for the 23-year-old. Sale has allowed more than three earned runs in just one of his 14 starts this year and has won six straight decisions.

The Twins were the latest team to run into the buzzsaw that has been Sale's left arm this season, managing just two runs in seven innings against him on June 27.

"He's got some funk to it," Minnesota's Justin Morneau said of Sale after his last start. "His breaking ball, for it to go for a strike, pretty much has to start behind you. And he's got pretty good feel for it also; when he needs to get a strike with it he can. And when he's ahead in the count and feels he needs to get you to chase, he's got that one. He has plus-velocity and can reach back for 95 mph when he needs it. So it makes it tough to stay back with a 15- to 20-mph difference."

But for Sale and a White Sox team that had won seven of nine games before dropping its last two at New York, things won't get any easier.

Texas has the best record in the Major Leagues going into this series, and the team's been playing as well recently as it has all season. The Rangers had won five straight games before falling to Oakland on Sunday. They've won 13 of 16 games overall heading into Tuesday.

Even though three members of Texas' Opening Day starting rotation are on the disabled list, the team has been able to stay hot thanks to its powerful offense. The Rangers scored 35 runs during their recent five-game win streak and were paced by several big innings in their series with Oakland.

"We don't expect to have huge innings, but we expect to score and to put pressure on the other team consistently throughout the game," Texas shortstop Ian Kinsler said Saturday. "Once or twice a game, that can possibly turn into a big inning."

Facing Sale will be a challenge, but based on recent history, the Rangers' offense seems to be ready for it.

Rangers: Oswalt takes the hill
Right-hander Roy Oswalt will make his third start of the season Tuesday after signing with the Rangers in May. The veteran won each of his first two outings, but he wasn't in top form in his last start, on Wednesday, when he gave up 13 hits and five runs in six innings against the Tigers.

"He had to battle," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after Oswalt's last outing. "He was facing a pretty good team that was swinging the bats. The one thing he did was he threw strikes and make them swing the bats. In my opinion it was a good game because he left the game and kept the lead. He just had to battle."

• Washington said on Sunday that left-hander Derek Holland could return to the team's rotation this Saturday. The original plan was for Holland, who's on the 15-day DL with left elbow fatigue, to make three rehab starts for Triple-A Round Rock, but he could be activated instead after making his second start on Monday.

Other injured pitchers Koji Uehara (strained lat), Alexi Ogando (strained groin) and Neftali Feliz (sprained elbow) could throw bullpens during the team's series in Chicago.

White Sox: Humber makes first rehab start
Sidelined since June 17 with an elbow flexor strain, right-hander Philip Humber made his first rehab start on Sunday for Triple-A Charlotte, allowing two runs and three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Humber is expected to make at least one more Minor League start before being activated for the second half of the season after the All-Star break.

• Outfielder Alejandro de Aza, first baseman Paul Konerko and outfielder Alex Rios all collected hits in Sunday's loss to the Yankees and thus extended their hitting streaks. De Aza's now stands at five games, Konerko's at four games and Rios' at seven games.

Worth noting
• Oswalt faced the White Sox in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series. He allowed five earned runs in six innings against Chicago in that outing.

• White Sox slugger Adam Dunn has four home runs in 81 career at-bats against Oswalt. Dunn faced the pitcher many times when they were playing in the same division, he with the Reds and Oswalt with the Astros.

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