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Indians And White Sox Begin Battle For Runner-Up Spot Thursday Night

Not what we hoped for, but second place is at stake in the Windy City

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(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers appear well on their way to an American League Central title, but who finishes behind them is still anyone's guess. Perhaps this series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox will shed some light on that as the division rivals open a four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.

Detroit separated itself from the White Sox by sweeping them last weekend. This week it was the Indians' turn, as they lost all three games at home to Tigers, including an 8-6 set on Wednesday at Progressive Field.

Shelley Duncan homered twice off of Justin Verlander and finished with three hits, while Lonnie Chisenhall hit a two-run homer in the loss for the Tribe, who gave up five runs in the seventh and lost for the fifth time in seven games.

"They took care of business, and obviously we didn't," said Indians manager Manny Acta, whose team fell 9 1/2 games back in the division. "They're doing a good job of running away from us, beating us head-to-head."

Getting the call for the Indians tonight will be lefty David Huff, who is 2-3 with a 2.81 ERA. Huff lost for the third time in four decisions on Saturday in Kansas City, as the Royals reached him for five runs (four earned) and six hits in six innings.

Huff has faced the White Sox four times (three starts) and is 2-0 against them, despite an 8.04 ERA.

Chicago, meanwhile, bounced back from its sweep in Detroit to take three of four from the Minnesota Twins, but found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-4 decision at Target Field on Wednesday.

Paul Konerko went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored for the White Sox, who were looking for their first four-game sweep against Minnesota since 2008. A.J. Pierzynski, Juan Pierre and Alex Rios each had an RBI.

Pierre is now one hit away from 2,000 for his career.

John Danks (6-11) allowed five runs -- four earned -- on six hits over six innings to take the loss. He struck out four and walked two for Chicago, which sits nine games back of the Tigers in the standings.

Tonight, Chicago will rely on righty Gavin Floyd, who is 12-10 on the year with a 4.45 ERA. Floyd's unbeaten streak reached five starts on Saturday in Detroit, as he escaped without a decision, but allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings of a 9-8 loss.

Floyd is 2-0 in three starts versus the Indians this season and 6-3 lifetime with a 4.57 ERA lifetime in 11 starts against them.

Chicago has gotten the better of its division rivals this season winning seven of the 10 matchups, including three of the five meetings in the Windy City.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.