Lee hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning of Monday’s 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians to become just the fourth White Sox player to homer in five straight games. Frank Thomas did it twice in 1994, and Greg Luzinski and Ron Kittle each did it in 1983.
“It’s not like I’m trying,” Lee said. “I’m just trying to put some good swings on the ball and the ball is going out.”
However, Lee has done more than just hit the long ball over the five-game stretch. He’s 8-for-19 (.421) with 12 RBIs and seven runs scored, boosting his average 72 points to .246.
Lee will look to help give starter Esteban Loaiza some breathing room as the 31-year-old right-hander goes for his fourth straight win and tries to end the White Sox’s two-game slide.
Loaiza is coming off one of the best performances of his career as he gave just one earned run and four hits, while striking out a career-high-tying 11 over six innings in an 8-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
His 11 strikeouts were the most by a White Sox pitcher since James Baldwin sat down that many against the Milwaukee Brewers in July 2000.
“This is the best three starts I ever had in my career,” Loaiza said after lowering his ERA to 1.31—the second-best mark in the American League and the fourth-best in the majors.
The Orioles come in off Monday’s 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, their fifth victory in six games.
Baltimore, which got its first shutout since a 3-0 win over the Anaheim Angels on July 2 of last season, pulled to .500 with the win. Since they were 18-17 last May 10, the Orioles have been above .500 just once, by winning on opening day this year.
“Obviously, we’d like to be over .500,” said bench coach Sam Perlozzo, who is 2-0 as the Orioles’ acting manager while Mike Hargrove is tending to his ailing mother. “But it’s a little early to be worrying about .500.”
STANDINGS: White Sox - 2nd place, 4 GB, AL Central. Orioles - 3rd place, 6 1/2 GB, AL East.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Loaiza (3-0, 1.31 ERA). In 12 career starts against the Orioles, Loaiza is 5-4 with a 4.19 ERA.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Sidney Ponson (1-1, 6.06 ERA). Ponson gave up four earned runs and seven hits over seven innings on Thursday, but did not receive a decision in Baltimore’s 6-4 win over Cleveland. In seven career starts against the White Sox, he is 1-3 with a 6.53 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: White Sox - D’Angelo Jimenez, .362 avg. and 13 runs; Lee, 5 HRs; Magglio Ordonez, 15 RBIs; Jimenez and Ordonez, 2 SBs. Orioles - Tony Batista, .299 avg., 4 HRs, 14 RBIs and 14 runs; Jerry Hairston Jr., 6 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: White Sox, 4-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: White Sox - OF Ordonez hit a double in the sixth inning Monday, extended his hitting streak to a career-high-tying 17 games—the longest current streak in the majors. … 2B Jimenez drew a walk in the first inning Monday, reaching base safely for the 16th straight game. … RHP Billy Koch, Chicago’s closer, gave up two runs in the ninth Monday, giving him an 8.68 ERA for the season. Orioles - Hargrove, whose mother underwent surgery on Monday to remove an infected gallbladder, may return to the club within a couple of days. … DH David Segui missed his fourth straight game with a strained right hamstring, but is moving better. … C Greg Myers is 5-for-13 (.385) with two doubles in his career against Loaiza.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: White Sox - 4-5 on the road; Orioles - 5-5 at home.
INJURIES: White Sox - RHP Dan Wright (elbow), 15-day DL. Orioles - LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; DH Segui (hamstring), day-to-day.