White Sox 10, Dodgers 3
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Frank Thomas is a much better hitter lately, now that he’s become a fielder again.
Thomas, playing in the field regularly for the first time since last year, also singled in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. The two-time AL MVP was 6-for-9 with a pair of home runs in his first series at Dodger Stadium, and is 17-for-36 since manager Jerry Manuel took him out of the DH role 11 games ago.
“We were playing so bad, and he just said, `Hey, I just want you back out on the field,’ because he saw me stressing and getting angry between every at-bat,” Thomas said.
He struck out a career-high 110 times last season and is a has a .283 career average as a DH—55 points lower than his average at a first baseman.
“At first, I felt that it wasn’t a big difference,” he said. “But I’m feeling better from at-bat to at-bat now because, when I’m out in the field, I’m thinking more defensively and I’m not worrying about hitting. I’ve gotten that swagger back on the field and that competitiveness that comes with playing an all-around game. So it’s really helped.”
Esteban Loaiza (9-2) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking none to improve to 5-0 on the road. His ERA, which had been the best in the majors, rose from 1.90 to 2.06—moving behind Woody Williams of St. Louis (1.99).
“I can see why he’s had such a good year,” Dodgers leadoff hitter Dave Roberts said. “He’s mixing in his cutter a lot, throwing it for strikes and using it as an out pitch. It’s just tough to put hits together against him. But it comes to a point where it doesn’t matter who’s out there. You’ve got to find a way to score runs.”
The victory completed a 5-8 road trip by the White Sox, who took two of three in their first series against the Dodgers that counted since Los Angeles won the 1959 World Series. Carlos Lee drove in Chicago’s final three runs in the seventh with his 100th career homer.
“Lo Duca’s been swinging the bat as well as anyone in the National League, and we still can’t score runs,” Roberts said. “So obviously, it takes a combined effort. We haven’t been consistent offensive this whole year—not even close.”
Odalis Perez (4-4) allowed seven runs—six earned—and eight hits in five innings, increasing his ERA to 4.72.
With the score tied at 2 in the fifth, the White Sox loaded the bases with no outs as Miguel Olivo beat the throw to third from first baseman Fred McGriff on a sacrifice bunt by Loaiza. Olivo scored on a groundout by D’Angelo Jimenez, and Graffanino followed with his two-run double.
Thomas then turned on an inside fastball on 2-1 and drove it into the left field bullpen for his 13th homer—and only the second with a runner on base. It tied Johnny Bench for 41st on the career list at 389.
“I didn’t realize his changeup was that good,” Thomas said. “I saw it firsthand the first two times up. The first time, he struck me out with a very nasty one, so I just stepped back and looked at the middle more, just sat on the fastball and tried not to jump out there.”
Lo Duca, starting in left field so he wouldn’t have to catch in the afternoon following a night game, poked a 1-2 pitch the other way down the right-field line leading off the second inning. The ball caromed off the field-box facade and past Magglio Ordonez.
The run put the Dodgers up 2-0. It was the first inside-the-park home run by the Dodgers since June 21, 1994, when Mitch Webster hit one against at San Diego. Their previous one at Dodger Stadium was by Steve Sax, on May 2, 1988, against Pittsburgh.
Chicago tied it with a pair of second-inning runs. Perez, who retired the White Sox in order the first time through the lineup, gave up four consecutive singles, including Ordonez’s run-scoring hit. Graffanino, who was 3-for-5,scored the second run on a double-play grounder by Carlos Lee.
Former Dodgers pitcher Larry Sherry, who earned World Series MVP honors in 1959 with two wins, two saves and a 0.71 ERA against the White Sox, threw a ceremonial first pitch. … A pregame moment of silence was observed for Dennis Minishian, 61, a longtime fixture at Southern California sports events who served as statistician for the Dodgers’ broadcast team. … Thomas’ next game will be his 1,757th for the White Sox, tying Ray Schalk for third place on thefranchise list behind Luke Appling (2,422) and Nellie Fox (2,115).