Series: Game 1 of 3

Chi White Sox leads 1-0 (as of 4/22)

Game 1: Tuesday, April 22
Chi White Sox3Final
Game 2: Wednesday, April 23
Chi White Sox1Final
Game 3: Thursday, April 24
Chi White Sox4Final

White Sox 3

(12-8, 5-5 away)

Orioles 1

(9-10, 5-6 home)

    7:05 PM ET, April 22, 2003

    Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland 

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    BAL 000000001 1 4 0

    W: E. Loaiza (4-0)

    L: S. Ponson (1-2)

    S: B. Koch (3)

    Loaiza pitches into ninth, lowers ERA to 1.24

    BALTIMORE (AP) -- A month ago, Esteban Loaiza was a non-roster player trying to make the starting rotation of the Chicago White Sox.

    Now he's the ace of the staff, dominating the opposition in a fashion that White Sox manager Jerry Manuel hasn't seen in nearly a decade.

    Loaiza took a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning Tuesday night and won his fourth straight start, leading Chicago over the Baltimore Orioles 3-1.

    Signed as a free agent after going 9-10 with Toronto last season, Loaiza emerged from spring training as the first White Sox pitcher to make the starting rotation as a non-roster invitee since Danny Darwin in 1997.

    The right-hander has since accounted for a third of Chicago's 12 wins. "He's really performed extremely well. He's a hot guy right now," Manuel said. "The mixing of pitches, changing speeds, attacking the strike zone -- he's doing everything."

    Asked to recall a pitcher that was so overwhelming, Manuel said, "I think the last one I saw was probably Dennis Martinez, when he was with Montreal. You knew he would be good every time out."

    Loaiza struck out eight, walked none and hit two batters in lowering his ERA to 1.24. It's almost as if he's a completely different pitcher than the one that started the season with a 69-73 lifetime record.

    "I think so," Loaiza said. "I'm hitting my spots and throwing different pitches ahead of the count. I can't really say I have a favorite pitch, because all of them are working and I'm getting people out."

    Loaiza was lifted after Jay Gibbons hit a one-out homer in the ninth. He would have loved to have recorded his fifth career shutout, but wasn't too disappointed.

    "I'm having fun. Everyone's having fun. We're getting runs and we're winning games," he said.

    Billy Koch finished the four-hitter for his third save.

    Loaiza outpitched Sidney Ponson (1-2), who gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings.

    "I gave my team a chance to win, but Loaiza was unhittable today," Ponson said.

    Chicago's Magglio Ordonez extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games with a fourth-inning single, but Carlos Lee failed in his bid to homer in a club-record sixth straight game.

    Frank Thomas put the White Sox up 1-0 in the first inning by driving a 1-0 pitch into the left-field seats. It was his third homer of the season and 379th overall, tying him with Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 47th on the career list.

    Thomas, who entered with a .218 batting average, also doubled in a 2-for-4 night.

    "He has a history of hitting good in this ballpark," Manuel said. "This is a good place for him to get it going. If he can kind of do his thing here and use this as a springboard for the rest of the season, it could make us pretty tough."

    In the fourth, Jerry Hairston was hit by a pitch with one out and reached third on a two-out infield single by B.J. Surhoff, but Loaiza retired Jeff Conine on a grounder.

    "We ran into a buzz saw," said Sam Perlozzo, working his third straight game in place of Orioles manager Mike Hargrove. "Loaiza had us frustrated all night."

    Chicago made it 2-0 in the fifth when Lee singled, stole second and scored on a double by Joe Crede.

    "By the second or third inning, I knew I couldn't afford to give up one more run," Ponson said. "But I did."

    Thomas doubled leading off the ninth, and pinch-runner Tony Graffanino scored on a single by Paul Konerko.

    Game notes
    Hargrove is in Texas with his ailing mother, but could return Wednesday. ... The victory was the 426th for Jerry Manuel, tying him with Fielder Jones for fourth place on the White Sox career list. ... Baltimore LF Marty Cordova was a late scratch with a stiff right elbow. He is to undergo a CT scan on Wednesday.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press