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BAL@MIN: Liriano mows down 10 over six in no-decision

With the suddenly slumping White Sox falling out of first place in the American League Central over the weekend, welcoming the last-place Twins to U.S. Cellular Field for the start of a three-game series might seem like a bit of relief. But not so fast.

Unfortunately for the White Sox, who have lost five straight games while scoring just nine combined runs, the Twins will be sending Francisco Liriano to the mound for the series opener Monday.

Not only did Liriano hurl a no-hitter against the White Sox last season, but the righty is 5-0 with a 2.85 ERA against Chicago since the start of the 2010 season. Prior to the '10 campaign, Liriano was 0-3 with a 7.52 ERA against the South Siders.

Though his name has been swirling amidst trade rumors, Liriano seemingly has not let a potential move ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline affect his performance on the field. In fact, Liriano has lowered his ERA from 8.47 to 4.81 since returning to the starting rotation on May 30.

"I try not to listen to [the rumors]," said Liriano, who has 25 combined strikeouts in his last two outings. "It's not going to change anything. I'm just happy to be here. Whatever happens, happens. I don't know what is going to happen, so I try not to pay attention to it."

The main problem for Liriano throughout his career -- with this season being no different -- has been one of consistency, something White Sox starter Gavin Floyd has had his struggles with, as well.

Floyd, who hasn't started since July 7 because of right elbow tendinitis, will take the bump in Monday's series opener having not allowed a single run in three of his last four outings. That impressive four-start stretch has come immediately following one in which he allowed four-plus runs in six straight starts.

The Twins know Floyd's ups and downs better than any other team, having seen both sides of the right-hander this season. Minnesota teed off on Floyd to the tune of nine runs in just 3 2/3 innings in a 9-2 victory on May 22. Just over a month later, however, Floyd tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out nine Twins in a 3-2 White Sox victory.

"Everything was working for him," said Twins outfielder Ben Revere after Floyd silenced his club on June 26. "His curveball, his slider and he was going inside and outside with his fastball and his changeup. If you do that ... it's tough to score runs against him."

Twins: Plouffe expected back in lineup
• After sitting out his second straight game on Sunday with a bruised right thumb, third baseman Trevor Plouffe is expected to return to the Twins' lineup for Monday's series opener. Plouffe injured his thumb while getting jammed on a pitch on Friday night.

"He came in [on Sunday] and had a lot of improvement," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before Sunday's victory. "But in my experience in getting jammed as a player, which was plenty and often, one day doesn't let it heal. You need a couple days to regroup. If you go right back at it, then it doesn't go away for a long time. So I'm giving him an extra day, but I'm guessing he'll back in there [on Monday]."

White Sox: Battered rotation returning to health
• The White Sox pitching staff experienced quite the makeover this past weekend, with Philip Humber, Floyd and Jesse Crain all returning from injuries in addition to the acquisition of reliever Brett Myers from the Astros.

With Humber jumping back into the rotation in Sunday's loss, Floyd returning on Monday and Crain once again available out of the bullpen, manager Robin Ventura feels confident about making a postseason run with the arms currently on his roster.

"If you look at what we've got, we've been going a lot with the young guys out of necessity," Ventura said. "Guys have been hurt, but now you're starting to get them back -- and you have a guy like Brett who has that experience and composure going into any situation."

Worth noting
• Joe Mauer is 18-for-42 (.429) with four doubles, three homers and eight RBIs in his career against Floyd.

• Denard Span has been even a touch better against Floyd, hitting at a .500 (16-for-32) clip against the righty during his career.

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