With the best home run hitter in franchise history in town for the first time in an opposing uniform, the Chicago White Sox showed they still have plenty of power without him.
The White Sox (30-15) won 9-3 on Tuesday, moving a season-best 15 games over .500. Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye hit consecutive homers in the first inning, and Jim Thome also connected for Chicago, which owns the second-best record in baseball and remained one game behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
Former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas went 0-for-1 with three walks in his second game in Chicago since signing with Oakland in the offseason. Thomas, who is hitting just .194, hit two solo homers in Monday’s series opener, a 5-4 White Sox win in 10 innings.
Konerko’s homer moved him past Carlton Fisk into sole possession of third place on the team’s career list with 215. However, he has a long way to go to catch Thomas, the Sox’ all-time leader with 448.
Thome, Konerko and Dye combined to go 5-for-9 with five RBIs, six walks and five runs on Tuesday and have combined for 42 of the team’s 69 homers.
“The middle of our lineup has a chance to be special, really our whole lineup,” said Thome, who replaced Thomas as Chicago’s designated hitter and leads the AL with 18 homers and 43 RBIs. “I think everyone knows their role and everyone is doing a good job.”
Thome, who is tied with Cleveland’s Travis Hafner for the league lead with 41 runs scored, left in the eighth inning with a tweaked groin, but said he’d be fine for the series finale.
Eric Chavez hit a three-run homer for the A’s (22-23), who matched a season-high with their fourth straight defeat and trail AL West-leading Texas by one game.
Oakland has not lost five in a row since dropping eight straight May 21-29 last season.
Starter Dan Haren (4-3, 3.86 ERA) will look to help the A’s end the losing streak. He won his third straight start on Friday, allowing just two hits in eight innings of a 1-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Haren has allowed just four runs in 24 1-3 innings during his winning streak.
He made his only start against the White Sox last season on July 10, but did not receive a decision after allowing five runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of Oakland’s 9-8 win.
The White Sox will counter with Mark Buehrle (5-2, 2.92), who won his second straight start on Friday, allowing just one unearned run and two hits in a complete-game, 6-1 win over Greg Maddux and the Chicago Cubs.
Buehrle changed the position of his glove in an attempt to better hide his pitches after giving up seven runs—one earned—all in the first inning of his previous start, a 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
“I did what I did from the second inning on in Minnesota,” Buehrle said. “Ever since I changed it up, I’ve been throwing pretty well.”
Buehrle is 2-8 with a 4.14 ERA in 18 career appearances, including 14 starts, against the A’s. He is 0-3 in his last five starts against Oakland— all of which Chicago lost—since beating the Athletics on Aug. 8, 2003.