Chicago All-Star earns 15th win


CHICAGO (AP) -- Esteban Loaiza is proving his skeptics wrong.

Loaiza allowed four hits over eight innings and Paul Konerko
homered as the Chicago White Sox defeated the Oakland Athletics 5-1

"It's going my way; there is nothing I can do about it,"
Loaiza said. "Those doubters are probably biting their tongues
right now."

The White Sox have won 17 of their last 22 games and remain a
half game behind Kansas City in the AL Central.

Loaiza (15-5) was impressive, outdueling rookie Rich Harden. He
retired 17 of 18 batters between the second and seventh inning
before giving up a double to Scott Hatteberg.

Jose Guillen can't figure out how Loaiza has gone from a
mediocre pitcher to one of the most dominating in baseball.

"I've faced Loaiza before. I don't know where he learned some
of these pitches. He wasn't that nasty before," Guillen said after
going 0-for-4 with a strike out.

Damaso Marte pitched the ninth to finish the four-hitter.

Loaiza's AL-leading ERA dropped from 2.30 to 2.24. He allowed
Adam Melhuse's homer in the eighth, while striking out six in
winning his fourth straight decision.

"You expect excellence when he takes the mound," White Sox
manager Jerry Manuel said.

Harden (3-1) failed to go six innings for the first time in five
big league starts. In five innings, he allowed two runs on six hits
and left after throwing 109 pitches. He struck out eight, including
the side in the first, and walked one.

"I think the key of the game today was to make him work, make
him throw pitches after pitches," Roberto Alomar said. "The guy
had already 107 pitches by the fifth inning. I thinks that's why we
got him in the end."

The White Sox scored twice in the fifth. Alomar singled with two
outs and Lee followed with a triple to right. Thomas followed with
an RBI double to left.

"The last few starts I've been working through some things but
I thought I had some good stuff today," Harden said. "They're a
good bunch of hitters and kept me from going deeper in the game."

Konerko homered off A's reliever John Halama in the sixth. It
was Konerko's 12th home run of the season.

Everett hit a solo homer and Joe Crede added an RBI single off
Oakland reliever Chad Harville in the eighth. Crede's bloop single
drove in Konerko from first after Guillen and Miguel Tejada
collided going after the ball. Guillen was down for a minute but
stayed in the game.

Harden was able to pitch himself out of trouble fourth. He gave
up back-to-back singles to Magglio Ordonez and Carl Everett with
one out then struck out Konerko on a wild pitch that moved Ordonez
and Everett over to second and third. Jose Valentin struck out end
the inning.

Game notes
Harden's ERA rose from 1.33 to 1.69. ... Lee slipped and
fell on his back, but was still able to catch Eurbiel Durazo's fly
ball in the seventh inning. ... Konerko has hit in 13 of his last
14 games.