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Pitcher atones for skipping out on team

CHICAGO (AP) -- Jon Rauch stuck around to enjoy the victory.
Really, he had little choice -- his left arm was literally
handcuffed to his locker.

The 6-foot-11 righty atoned for an earlier episode when he left
the clubhouse before a game was over and led the White Sox past the
Cleveland Indians 7-1 Thursday.

"I made a stupid mistake and I'm not making it now," Rauch
said, showing his handcuffed wrist, a prank courtesy of teammate
Mark Buehrle.

"It doesn't bother me at all. It's all in good fun," Rauch
said.

Jose Valentin hit a three-run homer in the first inning and the
White Sox tacked on four runs in the eighth. In between, Aaron
Rowand made two stellar catches in center field to protect the
lead.

In the fifth, Rowand ran down Jody Gerut's long liner and
crashed into the center-field wall at full speed, but held onto the
ball.

"I knew there were runners on base and I knew I needed to get
to it. If I run into the wall, I run into the wall," Rowand said.

"But the play needed to be made. I knew if I didn't make the
play, it would be a tie ball game at that point."

In the eighth, with the score still 3-1, Rowand leaped at the
fence to catch Casey Blake's drive.

"Rowand, straight up Rowand. A fantastic play. It's why I'm
standing here with a smile on my face," Rauch said. "If he
doesn't make that catch, it's a different ball game."

Chicago's fifth starters had been 0-8 this season before Rauch
(1-1) limited the Indians to one run in five innings. He gave up
six hits, and White Sox relievers held the Indians hitless.

In his only other start this year, Rauch was roughed up by
Anaheim for five runs and 10 hits in just 3 2-3 innings on May 29.

Not only did he lose that game to the Angels, he lost the
respect of his teammates and angered general manager Kenny Williams
with an early exit from the locker room.

Williams said at the time Rauch jeopardized his chances of ever
pitching for the White Sox again. Rauch apologized, saying it was a
misunderstanding.

The White Sox decided to give him another opportunity, recalling
him from Triple-A on Sunday.

"I think the way he left the feeling in the clubhouse last time
he was pitching, I think he got more pressure on himself to improve
and to fit in the clubhouse or to fit with the team," Chicago
manager Ozzie Guillen said.

"He pitched really well. Believe me, this was a big game for
us."

Second baseman Ronnie Belliard's error on Juan Uribe's grounder
opened the way for the White Sox in the first. After Carlos Lee
singled with two outs, Valentin drove his 14th homer to deep center
off Jake Westbrook (6-4). The Indians starter didn't allow an
earned run in six strong innings, allowing just four hits.

"I made a decent pitch and he got it. He put a good swing on
it," said Westbrook.

Coco Crisp doubled in the fifth and scored on Matt Lawton's
single, and the Indians threatened for more after Omar Vizquel
followed with another single.

"We've got to get at least one more run there. It's a big
difference between 3-1 and 3-2," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge
said.

But after Rauch retired the next two batters, Rowand made the
play of the game.

"Rowand made a couple of great plays in center and that was the
difference," Wedge said.

With help from Rowand, Rauch won back some respect from his
teammates and perhaps solved Chicago's season-long problem with the
No. 5 starter.

"I'll pitch whenever they want me to," Rauch said just before
the cuffs were removed. "I'm just glad I'm still here."

Game notes
The White Sox have homered in 19 straight home games. ...
Indians lefty Cliff Lee, who beat the White Sox on Wednesday night
to run his record to 7-1, decided to drop his appeal of a six-game
suspension for throwing a pitch behind Ken Griffey Jr. on June 12.
... Cleveland finished 5-5 on a tough 10-game road trip in which
the Indians played the Mets, Braves and White Sox. ... The next
home game for the White Sox figures to be much more spirited. The
Cubs come to U.S. Cellular Field on Friday to open a three-game
interleague series.