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What's new: The Sox are battling to win the American League Central Division, going into Wednesday having lost six of seven. Their success under rookie manager Robin Ventura has come from hitting homers (second in the majors entering Wednesday), defense (second in the majors in fielding percentage) and dynamic though inconsistent pitching. Offense has been an issue lately. They entered Wednesday hitting .096 (5-for-52) with runners in scoring position over their past eight games, leaving 49 men on. C A.J. Pierzynski is having a career year (.278, 27 homers, 75 RBIs) and DH Adam Dunn (41 homers) a big comeback. LHP Chris Sale, who starts Saturday, is a Cy Young candidate.
Key stat: Sixteen of the Sox's past 22 games entering Wednesday had been decided by three or fewer runs. They were 6-10.
Connections: Sox 1B/DH Dan Johnson is a former Ray. Sale is from Lakeland and Florida Gulf Coast University, and Pierzynski grew up in Brooksville. … Rays bench coach Dave Martinez played for the White Sox.
Series history: Sox lead 3-0 this season (sweeping at the Trop), 66-46 overall and 32-19 in Chicago.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer