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OAK@CWS: Danks earns his first win of the year

The White Sox have had their fair share of road woes recently. Losers in 10 of their last 11 road games, Chicago has been outscored 62-34 during that stretch.

It'll be up to White Sox left-hander John Danks to get them out of that funk Saturday against the Astros in Houston.

Danks is definitely the man to get the job done, having his best start of the season against the A's last Saturday. In just his fifth start of the season since recovering from left shoulder surgery, Danks allowed one run on three hits in eight innings for the win.

He also struck out six and walked one, retiring the final 21 batters he faced. It marked Danks' first win at U.S. Cellular Field since Sept. 24, 2011, against the Royals.

"Obviously, Spring Training was tough," Danks said. "I battled through a lot in spring, and just like they told me, the more time and the more strengthening I get, the better I'll be."

Meanwhile, Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell will look to continue his current hot streak after having plenty of ups and downs through the first two months of the season.

The right-hander has surrendered fewer than two runs in eight starts, but he has allowed five or more runs in four outings this season, two of which he allowed eight runs. However, in his last two starts, Harrell has combined to allow just one earned run in 14 innings.

Harrell had his best start of the season on Sunday against the Royals, giving up two hits in seven innings for a no-decision. It marked the first time this year he did not allow an earned run.

After he loaded the bases in the first inning and threw 51 pitches through two, Harrell tossed just 48 pitches and retired 12 in a row at one stretch over his last five innings.

"I've been extremely happy with our starting pitching," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "It's been tremendous. They've either given us a great chance to win the game or they've kept us right there in the game over the last 3 1/2 weeks. We believe that's going to continue. We believe we have five guys who give us the best chance to win. It's a credit to them."

White Sox: Dunn heating up
Adam Dunn has been on quite a hot streak as of late, going 8-for-17 with four home runs and eight RBI in his last five games.

He went 0-for-2 with an RBI and one walk in Friday's 2-1 loss to the Astros.

"Hopefully, I see a better end of the first half and then the second half," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Again, he's going to strike out, but I think he was on a pace to strike out a lot more than he was expected for a while. But now he's hitting the ball the other way, he's hitting some fly balls. Just better at-bats. You can kind of tell just the way he's taking pitches. He went through periods where he was swinging no matter what.

"Now, he's got a better idea of the strike zone and confidence-wise it just seems like he's better going to the plate right now."

Astros: Maxwell may not start in center upon return
Justin Maxwell may not be the starting center fielder for the Astros when he finishes his rehab assignment from a fractured left hand suffered in April, Porter said Friday.

"I'm going to say that he will start. I'm not going to say it will be at center field," Porter said. "Brandon Barnes has done a great job there. He will warrant some continued playing time in center. That's why we've had Maxwell play some places beside center field [during his rehab assignment]. It gives us the luxury of having the option for both guys."

Maxwell was called up to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday after struggling heavily with Double-A Corpus Christi. The 29-year-old recorded just one hit in 23 at-bats with the Hooks, but he was struggling through some stomach ailments and food-poisoning symptoms.

Maxwell started exclusively in center field in 20 games with the Astros prior to injuring his hand on April 23. Porter said there is no timetable for Maxwell's return.

Worth noting
• The Astros announced the signing of four selections from the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Friday. They included first baseman Conrad Gregor (fourth round), catcher Jacob Nottingham (sixth round), outfielder Jon Kemmer (21st round) and outfielder Ronnie Mitchell (38th round). The club has signed 17 of its 40 selections.

• The White Sox hit eight home runs in their last five games, compared to nine in the previous 20 games. Comments