White Sox 8, Athletics 4

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Manager Jerry Manuel has preached patience at the plate, and the Chicago White Sox finally listened.

Frank Thomas had four hits to help the White Sox break out of a prolonged slump, and Esteban Loaiza pitched six strong innings Wednesday night in an 8-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Miguel Olivo homered and had three hits, Tony Graffanino went 2-for-2 with four walks and Carlos Lee added two hits as the White Sox won in Oakland for the first time in 11 games.

Graffanino showed the selectivity in the batter’s box his team has been searching for.

“This was a big game for us,” said Graffanino, who has hit safely in nine of his last 12 starts and reached safely in his last seven plate appearances. “I know we haven’t won here in a couple years. It’s good to go out there and show some signs of playing the way we’re capable of playing.”

Magglio Ordonez hit a peculiar two-run triple for Chicago, which had lost four straight, six of seven and 11 of 15—raising speculation that Manuel’s job might be in jeopardy at the conclusion of this six-game road trip.

Eric Byrnes robbed Ordonez of a home run in the third when he reached over the fence in left and had the ball in his glove before it got loose. It rolled along the top of the wall and eventually fell onto the warning track.

Something even stranger happened a few minutes later when part of the left-field wall fell to the field just below the out-of-town scoreboard. Byrnes and center fielder Chris Singleton attempted to punch it back in place but were unsuccessful until receiving help from the grounds crew. It caused about a 10-minute delay.

Miguel Tejada homered for the A’s, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

The White Sox finally produced in Oakland, where they had dropped 10 in a row. Their last win here was Aug. 30, 2000.

Chicago was held to five or fewer hits in eight of its previous 10 games, but got five in the third inning alone. The White Sox entered the game batting only .198 (77-for-388) with 34 runs scored over their last 13 games.

Loaiza (6-1), the AL pitcher of the month for April, is second in the league in wins behind New York’s Mike Mussina, who earned his seventh victory at Seattle on Wednesday. Loaiza was not available after the game because he had to catch a flight for a personal matter, the team said.

The A’s missed a chance to move into a tie with the Mariners for first place in the AL West.

Loaiza was impressive coming off his first loss of the season against Seattle. The right-hander gave up two runs and four hits, striking out one and walking three.

Reliever Tom Gordon walked three straight with two outs in the eighth before giving way to Damaso Marte, who allowed a two-run single to Terrence Long before getting Byrnes to line out.

Marte finished for his third save.

Oakland’s starters had put together 20 scoreless innings, including consecutive shutouts, but Ted Lilly (2-2) never got into a rhythm.

Manager Ken Macha, whose team lost for only the third time in 12 games, said he desperately needed to get his bullpen some work—but this wasn’t quite what he had in mind.

Lilly lasted just 3 1-3 innings, allowing eight hits and five runs. He went at least 5 2-3 innings in all six of his previous starts this season.

“I was more or less trying to find one pitch I could get ahead with,” Lilly said. “I got myself into a jam too often. I made it tough on myself by getting behind in the count. I didn’t have that go-to pitch to get myself out of a jam.”

Tejada homered in the second, sending a 2-0 pitch deep into the seats in left-center. It came after Olivo hit a 3-2 pitch from Lilly just over the wall in left-center for a 1-0 Chicago lead.

Tejada and Mark Ellis each made two errors. Tejada has 10 this season.

“We didn’t play well tonight, with four errors,” Macha said. “And the top of their lineup was on base 10 out of 12 times. You’re not going to win many games like that. When you walk the leadoff guy four times you’re going to be in trouble.”

The third inning lasted so long—the White Sox batted around—that Loaizawarmed up in the bullpen to keep his arm loose.

Notes

Thomas was moved up to No. 2 in the batting order. … Loaiza threw 103 pitches, 65 for strikes. … Ramon Hernandez, the A’s top hitter, is 0-for-15 lifetime against Loaiza. … The White Sox had 14 hits and beat Lilly for the first time in three tries. … Lilly has allowed eight earned runs in nineinnings over his last two starts.

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