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OAK@HOU: Colon fans nine over seven shutout innings

The White Sox and A's are two very different teams heading into this weekend's three-game series at O.co Coliseum.

Oakland is fresh off taking the Bay Bridge Series against the Giants and have won 11 of its last 13.

The White Sox, meanwhile, dropped all three games of the rain-shortened Crosstown Cup against the Cubs, the last of which was an ugly defensive performance in Thursday's 8-3 loss. It was just the latest disappointing game for the White Sox, who have been inconsistent in all facets of the game.

"Yeah, you gotta give them credit. At the same time, you got to look at yourself. We have to bring it," White Sox starter Jake Peavy said after losing Thursday's contest. "I think that we just have to step up with a little more intensity and it starts with me. I didn't do a very good job of that today. Nor did much of anybody."

Despite their poor play as of late, the third-place White Sox remain within striking distance in the American League Central, just off the pace of the first-place Detroit.

"We just got to get better. We're doing a lot of things not great," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. "It's been like this before. I've been on teams where, a couple years ago, we went 25-5 in 30 games. You never know when that run can hit, so you keep grinding."

The A's, meanwhile, are in one of those stretches where they seemingly can do no wrong. The pitchers are on pace to set the franchise record for strikeouts (pace: 1,181; record 1,160 in 2001), while the hitters are nearly on pace to break the mark for most doubles (pace: 344; record 348 in 2004).

And the lineup is about to get a boost Friday, when outfielder Josh Reddick is expected to return to the club after missing most of May because of a sprained right wrist. A's manager Bob Melvin said the plan -- should everything run smoothly in Reddick's final rehab assignment Thursday night -- is to insert Reddick into the lineup as the designated hitter on Friday and go from there.

Reddick was struggling when he went on the disabled list -- hitting only .152 with one home run, compared to the 32 homers he knocked out last year -- and Melvin believes the outfielder's struggles were directly related to his wrist.

"It was probably good for him to get a break and get fully healthy," Melvin said. "That way there'll be no trepidation about coming back. He was having trouble pulling the ball there at the end, too. Obviously, he was a key component to our success last year and means the same this year."

White Sox: Axelrod on the hill
• Right-hander Dylan Axelrod looks to continue his three-game winning streak on Friday after not earning a victory in his first seven starts of the season. The righty has tossed quality starts in five of his last eight outings.

• Reliever Jesse Crain needs one appearance and 1 2/3 innings to match his career-high scoreless streaks (21 games, 20 innings).

• White Sox play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson (sore throat) is expected to return to the booth for Friday's opener after missing two games.

A's: Colon aging well
• Right-hander Bartolo Colon, who starts Friday, hasn't been slowed by age. The 40-year-old is averaging .59 walks per nine innings, the lowest mark in the Majors, and is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts.

"I remember Nolan Ryan back in the day, when he was 45, throwing the same kind of velocity I did today," Colon said through translator Ariel Prieto. "I keep that in my mind."

• Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has a career-long 12-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .280.

• Closer Grant Balfour has converted his last 30 save opportunities, the second-longest streak in club history.

• With 18 doubles, third baseman Josh Donaldson is on pace for 53, which would break the team record of 47 set by Jason Giambi in 2001.

Worth noting
• The White Sox are 9-9 in Oakland since 2008, after going 6-27 there from 2001-07.

• Konerko (14-for-48, three homers), Alex Rios (9-for-22) and Adam Dunn (5-for-10, one homer) have hit Colon well throughout their careers.

• A's pinch-hitters are batting .094 with two homers and seven RBIs.

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