So far, the best move of all was inviting Esteban Loaiza to
spring training. Loaiza (3-0) matched a career high with 11 strikeouts, winning
his third straight start as Chicago beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2
Thursday. "This is the best three starts I ever had in my career,"
Loaiza said after allowing just four hits and a run in six strong
innings. "I'm feeling good and I've been successful so far. I just hope
I can get a lot of wins," said Loaiza, whose ERA is 1.31. Loaiza had plenty of help as Chicago beat Kansas City (11-3) for
the second straight day. Slumping Carlos Lee's grand slam was one
of four White Sox homers off Chris George (2-1). After a fan attacked an umpire Tuesday night, there was no
trouble the rest of the series. Loaiza, who pitched previously with the Pirates, Rangers and
Blue Jays and is in his ninth big league season, didn't allow a hit
until Brandon Berger singled leading off the fifth. "The acquisition of Bartolo was huge. But Esteban is a guy
Kenny was pressing to get," Chicago manager Jerry Manuel said of
general manager Kenny Williams. "We're glad we got him. We didn't realize he'd be this good.
He's probably the biggest surprise for us." Loaiza had a 15-inning scoreless streak snapped in the sixth
when Dee Brown drove in a run with the third of three Kansas City
singles in the inning. Lee's sixth career slam gave Chicago an 8-0 lead in the fifth
against George, who went 4 2/3 innings. "They have a lot of power on that team and showed it today,"
George said. "It was one of those days when I didn't have a whole
lot going. They hit a lot of different pitches." Miguel Olivo and Tony Graffanino hit back-to-back solo shots in
the second and Paul Konerko added another solo homer in the third.
Magglio Ordonez had an RBI single in the first, extending his
hitting streak to 13 games. Lee, who hit into a first-inning double play with the bases
loaded, and Konerko entered batting .174. Lee's homer was his first
of the season and came after Konerko was intentionally walked to
load the bases following a walk to Jose Valentin and a double by
Frank Thomas. "I wasn't trying to hit a grand slam. When you don't try, I
guess it happens," said Lee, motivated by the intentional walk to
Konerko. "That was showing me up and I won't take that," he said. Berger had an RBI infield single off Gary Glover in the eighth,
and the Royals loaded the bases before White got Carlos Febles to
ground into a double play.Game notes
The start was delayed 10 minutes by rain. The crowd was
just 10,716. ... Loaiza has not allowed a hit in the first three
innings of any of his three starts. ... George gave up seven hits
and eight runs. The four homers allowed tied a club record shared
by Paul Byrd, who gave up four to the White Sox last September. ...
Loaiza also fanned 11 on Sept. 8, 2000, for Toronto against the
Tigers. His 11 strikeouts were the most by a White Sox pitcher
since James Baldwin fanned 11 against Milwaukee in July 2000. ...
The gametime temperature was 43 degrees, 41 degrees colder than
Tuesday night's series opener.