White Sox-Athletics Preview

It's not been the best road trip for the Chicago White Sox, but it could be going even worse if not for Alexei Ramirez.

After getting another clutch hit by their shortstop, the White Sox continue a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.

Following a 6-4 homestand, Chicago (59-57) lost two of three at Seattle to open a six-game West Coast road trip. The only win in that series was a 3-1 victory Tuesday after Ramirez hit a three-run homer in the ninth.

The shortstop was Chicago's hero again in an 8-7, 10-inning victory over Oakland (51-64) on Friday when he homered to lead off the 10th. His home run helped the White Sox overcome another shaky outing by Jose Contreras after he gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings despite being staked a 6-0 lead.

Chicago's bullpen gave up three hits in 5 2/3 innings -- the fourth time in six games it has pitched more than four innings.

"That's key for us," closer Bobby Jenks said. "We've got one of the better bullpens in baseball. In a game like this that kind of got out of hand early on both sides, being able to shut down a team is extremely important."

The victory kept Chicago, which had lost three straight to Oakland, 2 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Detroit.

The A's, meanwhile lost for the fourth time in 11 games. Ryan Sweeney had three hits and Mark Ellis drove in three runs Friday. Sweeney is hitting .357 with seven RBIs in the last seven games.

Sweeney was one of the White Sox's top prospects before being traded along with Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 5.57 ERA) to Oakland in January 2008. Gonzalez takes the mound Saturday to face his former team, whom he never appeared in a major league game with, for the second time.

Gonzalez has pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings in his last two starts. Against the Orioles on Monday, he gave up seven hits in six innings of a 9-1 win. A 52-minute rain delay led to him being pulled in the seventh after he had already allowed two hits.

The left-hander is looking for his fifth straight win.

Gonzalez lasted only 3 1/3 innings against the White Sox last August, allowing eight runs while issuing three home runs and walking three in a 13-1 loss.

Gavin Floyd (9-7, 4.06) will counter for Chicago. He gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-4 loss to the Mariners on Monday after having allowed one earned run in each of his previous three starts.

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts against the Athletics. He pitched seven innings against them June 1, allowing two runs while striking out eight in a 6-2 victory. He did not receive a decision.

Jermaine Dye broke out of his slump Friday with two hits and three RBIs. The right fielder had gone 0 for 10 in his previous three games and in a .114 slump in his previous 11 games. His first-inning single marked his first RBI since Aug. 2.