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White Sox series

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published June 25, 2007


Tonight-Thursday

What's new: The White Sox are one of baseball's most disappointing teams and come to Tropicana Field struggling after being swept by the crosstown Cubs. They have lost five straight and 15 of their past 18 to fall out of the AL Central race. They are 14 games under .500 for the first time in more than six years. The White Sox have owned a lead in eight of their past 11 games but are just 2-6 in those games.

Key stat: The White Sox's .234 team batting average is 51 points lower than their average after 70 games last season.

Who's hot: 3B Josh Fields has come on strong after starting slowly while replacing injured 3B Joe Crede. Fields is hitting .364 (12-for-33) with three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in his past nine games. Paul Konerko has reached base in 17 straight games and is batting .327 in that span.

Who's not: Sox SS Juan Uribe has been in a season-long slump, batting only .214. He has also committed five errors in his past 19 games. C Toby Hall is 3 for his past 25.

Connections: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen played for the Devil Rays in 2000. ... Hall makes his first return to Tropicana Field since he was traded to the Dodgers last June. ... Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski grew up in Brooksville and resides in Orlando. ... INF/OF Rob Mackowiak lives in Tampa. ... Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who will miss the series with eye surgery, is a Chicago native.

Series history: The White Sox lead the series 41-30 and hold an 18-17 edge at Tropicana Field. The teams split six games last season and split two in Chicago last month.