For the first time in nearly five weeks, the White Sox return Tuesday night to American League Central play, where they thought their offensive struggles had been cured.

Instead, these next six games against the Twins and Royals could represent their last realistic chance to get out of a season-long rut.

"The way it's been going as of late, those are obviously big-picture thoughts," Paul Konerko said Monday night before the Sox rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Astros to snap a four-game losing streak. "For us, the main thing is we've really got to get back to basics. Every team is out there taking it one game at a time. We need to break this thing down one inning at a time.

"And when we get to Minnesota, put our heads down and try to put together a few good weeks and look up in time and see if we're doing all right. But right now, I don't think we're in a position to be looking ahead. We can't take anything for granted. We've got to work every minute we're out there."

The Sox (29-38) remained 91/2 games out of first place after Dayan Viciedo ripped a bases-loaded triple with two outs to cap a four-run sixth-inning rally.

The bullpen combined for 41/3 scoreless innings. Jesse Crain — pitching in front of scouts from the Rangers and Dodgers — threw 12/3 of them to extend his scoreless streaks to 27 innings and 27 appearances. Both marks tie franchise records for a reliever set by J.J. Putz in 2010.

"I don't want to go anywhere," Crain said. "I love playing for these guys. It's something I don't try to get too caught up in. There are always rumors out there, but obviously we need to start turning things around and start winning."

The Sox won't play the first of 19 games against the AL Central-leading Tigers for another three weeks, so they'll have to settle for trying to move ahead of the Twins and gain ground on the Royals to have any chance of staying within striking distance of the Tigers.

When the Sox beat the Twins 9-4 on May 15 behind two home runs from Adam Dunn, they were 17-21 but only five games out of first with the belief better days were ahead.

But their 12-17 mark since has been marred by inconsistency. They're 7-9 against the the AL Central, a disturbing trend considering their 12-24 record against the Tigers and Royals last season was a big reason they didn't win the division.