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NYY@CWS: Danks pitches eight scoreless innings

After an off-day Thursday for both teams, the Padres and White Sox will open a three-game series in Chicago on Friday -- the first meeting between the teams in Chicago since the White Sox won two of three games in 2003.

The White Sox will turn to John Danks, who pitched eight shutout innings against the Yankees on Saturday after allowing seven runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings in his previous outing on May 18 during a loss to the Astros.

"I'm feeling really good about where I was. From a personal standpoint, I needed it," Danks said. "I had a couple of rough ones, but if you take a couple of starts out of my year, I've had a pretty darn good year. I'm not looking at overall numbers. I never have in my career. Just worried about beating the Padres Friday."

Danks threw an unusual three bullpen sessions between his last two starts to fix some flaws in his mechanics, and that work produced four strikeouts, no walks and only three hits in the no-decision.

The Padres will counter with right-hander Ian Kennedy, who has been better than his 3-6 record indicates, as he's been the victim of poor run support in 2014.

Kennedy lowered his ERA to 3.59 in 11 starts after earning a victory over the other Chicago team -- the Cubs -- on May 25, when he allowed one run in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts.

Kennedy has seen a slight spike in his velocity, which has played a role in him having 72 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings. He has adapted well to a few mechanical fixes that pitching coach Darren Balsley has made since the end of last season.

"I do know that we've tried to heighten his leg kick and give him a bigger hip and shoulder turn," said Padres manager Bud Black. "And I think that he is really incorporating his lower half more, and maybe that's why you're seeing higher velocity numbers."

According to FanGraphs, Kennedy's fastball velocity this season runs at an average of 91.6 mph, which is up from 90.1 last season and 89.2 in 2012.

It's not just Kennedy's fastball that's helping him perform, though. According to Baseball Prospectus, Kennedy's curveball has the sixth largest vertical movement (-9.38 inches) of all qualified starters in the bigs. As a result, he's been able to get hitters to get on top of the ball and produce the seventh highest ground ball rate on balls in play (68 percent) among qualified starters.

The Padres have struggled on the road, having lost seven of nine series with one split and one series victory. San Diego is 4-7 in Interleague games in 2014, while Chicago is 5-5.

Friday begins the final series of a 10-game homestand for the White Sox.

Padres: Quentin to DH in Chicago
When the Padres arrive in Chicago for the start of a three-game series Friday, they can just ask Carlos Quentin how to get to U.S. Cellular Field. Quentin played four seasons (2008-11) for the White Sox before being traded to San Diego.

Quentin had his best years with the White Sox, hitting 107 home runs -- and at least 20 each year -- during those four seasons in their hitter-friendly ballpark. He's yet to reach the 20 home run mark in three injury-plagued seasons with the Padres, topping out at 16 in 2012. He'll get plenty of swings in this series, though likely none as a starting outfielder.

Black indicated Wednesday that Quentin is likely to serve as the designated hitter in the three-game series. It's a chance to get his bat in the lineup while also largely keeping him off his feet as he continues to recover from a groin injury. Quentin was out of the starting lineup in series finale against Arizona on Wednesday night.

"He's probably our most important bat," Black said.

White Sox: Surviving with one left-hander
Scott Downs continues to be the only left-hander in the White Sox seven-man bullpen, a situation that probably isn't changing in the very near future.

The 38-year-old Downs has appeared in seven games since May 17, including a save covering 1 1/3 innings on Monday, but has allowed five runs on five hits over his last 1 2/3 innings to balloon his ERA to 6.16.

"Yeah, I mean, he's getting a lot of work, that's for sure. Downsie, he's game for it," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "That's part of the job. Finishing the other night and coming back [on Tuesday]. But we do have righties that do very well against lefties, and that's part of the reason it still fits."

Worth noting
• White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (left ankle) will miss this series. He is expected to be activated off the disabled list when he becomes eligible on Monday.

• On Wednesday, San Diego finished its last intra-division game until June 20 -- which might be a good thing for the Padres, since they've lost five of their six series against National League West opponents, and were hammered by the last-place D-backs on Wednesday night. Comments