While solid pitching is a big reason for the Chicago White Sox's improved play over the last week, Paul Konerko is making sure the offense shares some of the credit.
On Thursday night, Konerko and the White Sox look to complete a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who will try to avoid losing 11 straight for the first time in four years.Chicago (30-34) has won six of seven and secured its third straight series win with a 7-2 victory over Pittsburgh (23-42) on Wednesday. John Danks gave up two runs and four hits in eight innings to continue a string of impressive outings by White Sox starters, who have a 2.11 ERA over their last eight games.The White Sox also had another big night at the plate. Chicago, which took Tuesday's series opener 6-4, took advantage of six Pittsburgh errors Wednesday to record at least six runs for the fourth time in its last seven games.Konerko had three hits, walked and drove in a run as he improved his average to .426 over the last 15 games. He is also batting .375 in interleague play, helping Chicago take six of eight against the NL this year."I think we were bound to have a good run at some point," Konerko said. "We were bad for a long time to start this season and now we're starting to put some runners on consistently. And the pitching is starting to smooth out."Seeking its first three-game road sweep since winning all three in Cleveland from June 29-July 1, Chicago hands the ball to Mark Buehrle (4-6, 4.93 ERA), whose start has been pushed up because of Jake Peavy's sore shoulder. By virtue of Monday's off day, Buehrle will still be pitching on normal rest.He continued his long-running domination of the NL over the weekend, improving to 21-6 lifetime in interleague play after pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Saturday's 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. The 21 wins are tied with Mike Mussina for the most in the history of interleague play.The left-hander had given up six runs in each of his previous two starts.Buehrle is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates, including two wins in Pittsburgh.The Pirates will seek to avoid losing 11 straight for the first time since a 13-game slide June 15-28, 2006. Even the debut of top prospect Pedro Alvarez wasn't enough Wednesday, as the rookie third baseman committed an error and went 0 for 2 with a walk and a strikeout."That's a lot of pressure to put on this kid like he's the savior," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.The six errors, including four in the ninth, were the most for Pittsburgh since a six-error performance in an 8-6 loss to San Francisco on May 9, 1988, and one shy of the franchise record.Ross Ohlendorf (0-4, 4.95) will try to end the Pirates' slide, as well as his own winless drought. The right-hander had posted three straight quality starts before last Friday, when he allowed season highs of six runs and 10 hits in a 6-2 loss to Detroit.Ohlendorf is 0-6 in 13 starts since last Aug. 18, though the Pirates haven't supported him with more than three runs in any of those outings. He gave up four runs in 7 2/3 innings of a 4-0 road loss to the White Sox on May 23, 2009.