Tampa Bay (27-57) at Chicago (56-26)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Wed Jul 6, 2005
  • TV: FSFL, CLTV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A healthy Frank Thomas is giving the Chicago White Sox just what they need— more power in the middle of their lineup.

The White Sox will look for Thomas to continue his power surge when they try for a three-game sweep of the visiting Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Thomas hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to rally the White Sox to a 6-4 victory on Tuesday that moved them a major league-best 30 games above .500.

“That’s what we have him for,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of his designated hitter. “That’s right, he can’t do anything else. He can hit and hopefully he can run the bases. This guy has always come (through) in the clutch. We know what kind of player Frank is, what kind of hitter he is.”

Thomas gives the White Sox a presence in the middle of the lineup that wasn’t there the first two months of the season while he was recovering from offseason surgery on his left ankle.

Thomas isn’t back to full strength. He is hitting .246—62 points below his career average—after going 2-for-4 on Tuesday. But in 69 at-bats, he has 10 home runs and 18 RBIs.

“Once you get over that 100 at-bat mark, that’s when you’ve got to worry about the average,” Thomas said. “If I get on a roll, the average will jump. I’m just focusing on helping this team any way I can right now. If the long ball is what it is, I’ll take it.

“To be honest, I’m really not trying to hit the ball out of the park.”

Thomas wasn’t the only veteran to have a good day at the plate on Tuesday. Jermaine Dye homered for the third straight game, the third time this season he has gone deep in three straight games.

Tampa Bay has lost seven in a row to fall 30 games below .500.

After watching the Devil Rays lose for the 10th time after blowing a lead in the eighth inning, manager Lou Piniella said he plans to have a reliever start Wednesday, then turn to Casey Fossum, who is scheduled to start. Piniella insisted he’s not joking.

“I’ve made up my mind and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “People are going to think I’m crazy, but we’re just going to try it. Starting (Wednesday), I’ll bring in whatever reliever I feel like starting the game with, and I’ll bring my starter in the third inning and we’ll play nine innings of baseball that way.

“I’m serious.”

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Starting Pitchers

C. Fossum Bal vs. J. Contreras Tex
8-12 Record 15-7
4.92 ERA 3.61
128 K 154
60 BB 75
1.41 WHIP 1.23