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Loaiza halts three-start losing streak

5/21/2004

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- As usual, Frank Thomas had nothing to say to
reporters after the game.

That's OK. His swings are making the big statements anyway.

Thomas had a season-high four hits, including a three-run homer,
and Esteban Loaiza snapped a three-start losing streak to lead the
Chicago White Sox over the Minnesota Twins 10-3 Thursday night.

Thomas finished a triple shy of the cycle. He homered in a
six-run second inning for the White Sox, who opened the four-game
series against their division rivals with their third straight win
and fourth in five games.

"He's hitting the ball well," Loaiza said. "I think
everybody's hitting the ball well."

The Big Hurt also had a huge day in Cleveland on Wednesday,
reaching base five times and driving in a season-high five runs in
a 15-3 victory over the Indians.

Paul Konerko added two solo shots -- one off reliever Terry
Mulholland in the seventh and another off Grant Balfour in the
ninth. Jose Valentin was the only Chicago starter who didn't have
at least one hit as the White Sox roughed up starter Seth
Greisinger and moved within a game of the first-place Twins.

Konerko stopped short of saying the win sent a message to the
reigning AL Central champs.

"Not when you play guys so many times," he said. "It's just
one win. It's definitely better than losing but we still haven't
won the series yet."

Loaiza (5-3) pitched seven innings, allowing nine hits and three
runs. His last victory was April 29 against Toronto. The White Sox
had scored a combined six runs in Loaiza's last three starts.

"Hopefully, we just come back tomorrow and get some more runs
like we did today," Loaiza said.

It didn't hurt that two of Minnesota's best hitters -- Shannon
Stewart and Doug Mientkiewicz -- were too banged up to play.

Jacque Jones homered for the Twins in the fifth inning to make
it 7-3. Loaiza's first pitch of the inning was a fastball down the
middle that Jones sent 431 feet to right.

But that was as much offense as Minnesota could muster against
last year's AL Cy Young runner-up.

"Loaiza was OK," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I'm sure
if you ask him, he'll say he didn't have his best stuff. ... But he
did what he had to do. Once they got a lead, he threw the ball
over, made us swing the bat and he got the outs."

Greisinger (1-3) lasted four-plus innings, allowing seven runs --
three earned -- and 10 hits. It was a far cry from his start last
Saturday against the White Sox, when he threw seven innings and
allowed only four hits in a 4-1 win.

"I threw some good pitches," Greisinger said. "But really I
just made too many mistakes up in the zone."

Minnesota led 2-0 after the first, but an error by third baseman
Michael Cuddyer with two outs led to Chicago's big second inning.

Things started going bad for Minnesota when Miguel Olivo's
grounder hit off Cuddyer's glove. Juan Uribe followed with a
single, and Timo Perez singled home Olivo.

Then came Thomas' homer. He drove Greisinger's 2-0 pitch 382
feet into the left-field seats to make it 6-2.

"If you miss the ball and give them too many outs, bad things
happen," Gardenhire said.

Thomas and Carlos Lee hit consecutive doubles in the fifth to
put the White Sox up 7-2 and chase Greisinger.

Thomas is 9-for-15 in his career against Greisinger.

The White Sox added another run in the sixth after Joe Crede led
off with a single. Olivo laid down a perfect bunt, and Mulholland's
throw hit him in the hip. Crede scored on Mulholland's error to
make it 8-3.

Game notes
After the game, the Twins placed Stewart on the disabled
list and recalled INF Justin Morneau from Triple-A Rochester. ...
Twins 2B Alex Prieto got his first hit of the year in the fourth
inning. ... Thomas has eight homers this season. ... The game
started with a few bizarre plays. After Uribe led off with a
single, Greisinger picked him off at first. Then, Perez grounded to
first. Although Jose Offerman's foot appeared to touch the bag,
first base umpire Jim Joyce called Perez safe. Thomas followed with
a single, but Lee hit into a double play to end the inning.