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Thomas' sacrifice fly lifts ChiSox over Royals

4/17/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- Finally, a Royals-White Sox game without any
trouble.

Frank Thomas foiled a shift with a sacrifice fly in the bottom
off the ninth, and fans were too busy trying to keep warm to make
mischief Wednesday night as the Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas
City Royals 4-3.

"It was nice to play a baseball game in Chicago without a fan
running on the field,'' Mike Sweeney said. "Tonight was the way
baseball should be played.''

The last two times the Royals played in Chicago, a fan had run
on the field and attacked someone near first base. Royals coach Tom
Gamboa was pummeled last September, and umpire Laz Diaz was
attacked on Tuesday night.

But on Wednesday, baseball was back to being the focus at U.S.
Cellular Field.

"I had no question we would play and that security would do a
good job,'' Royals manager Tony Pena said. "I didn't even worry
about that.''

Some of his players did, though.

"I heard the fans starting to get excited, and the first thing
I did was look to see if a fan was on the field,'' Sweeney said.
"It shouldn't have to be like that.''

Diaz wasn't hurt in Tuesday night's assault, and was behind home
plate Wednesday. There was a noticeable increase in security around
the park, with 16 guards ringing the field during the half-inning
breaks. Guards also stood near both dugouts, while others roamed
the stands.

Announcements warning fans to stay off the field were made
throughout the game, and White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko made
a plea before the game asking fans to behave. Major league baseball
officials also were on hand to make sure there were no problems.

But with a gametime temperature of 50 -- 34 degrees colder than
Tuesday night -- and a blustery wind making it feel even chillier,
there were only about 7,000 fans at the park.

"You come to a game and you want to have fun and you want the
fans to have fun,'' said Tom Gordon, who pitched two innings for
his first victory with the White Sox.

"I think that's what happened tonight. It was a good night for
fans, a good night for us. I think everybody had fun,'' said Gordon
(1-1).

The only rudeness fans showed was to White Sox reliever Damaso
Marte, and that was after he gave up a two-run homer to Angel
Berroa to tie the game at 3 in the eighth inning.

Jon Garland had pitched a gem, scattering three hits over seven
innings to give Chicago a 3-1 lead, but Marte came in and promptly
blew it. After giving up a leadoff walk to Brent Mayne, Marte
served up the homer on his first pitch to Berroa.

It was Berroa's first career home run.

The White Sox had blown a lead late Tuesday night, too, and they
were determined not to do it again.

Joe Crede led off the ninth with a single over third baseman Joe
Randa. Miguel Olivo then laid down what was supposed to be a
sacrifice bunt. But Jason Grimsley (0-1) threw the ball away,
giving the White Sox runners at second and third.

Pena put on a shift, replacing right fielder Dee Brown with
Mendy Lopez and giving Kansas City five infielders. The Royals then
intentionally walked D'Angelo Jimenez to load the bases.

"We had a sinkerball pitcher and we were looking for a ground
ball,'' Pena said.

Jose Valentin popped out, but Thomas lined a ball perfectly to
right field. Center fielder Michael Tucker had to chase after the
ball, with the wind carrying it just far enough to give Graffanino
the time to score.

"Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good,'' Thomas said.
"We'll take the win against these guys any way we can because
these guys are running away with the division. Somebody's got to
catch them.''

Game notes
Magglio Ordonez extended his hitting streak to 12 games
with a ground-rule, RBI double. ... After giving up a leadoff
single, Garland retired 17 of his next 19 batters, including 12
straight. ... Despite the loss, the Royals matched the 1978 squad
for the best start in franchise history.