White Sox 9, Devil Rays 1

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CHICAGO (AP)—With his team back in the AL Central race, Chicago White Sox manager Jerry Manuel has become a scoreboard watcher.

When Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay was about to start, he noticed that first-place Kansas City already had taken a big lead over Detroit.

“Anytime they post the score, that puts pressure on us to perform well,” Manuel said. “Our guys stepped it up today.”

Bartolo Colon pitched eight strong innings, and Frank Thomas homered and drove in three runs as the White Sox beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 9-1 for their ninth win in 10 games.

Colon (8-9) gave up Rocco Baldelli’s first-inning homer, then retired 18 consecutive batters until Aubrey Huff doubled in the seventh. He allowed three hits, struck out eight and walked none.

“He was outstanding. He had life on his fastball, good offspeed pitches when he needed to,” Manuel said. “He pitched extremely well.”

Colon warmed up for the start of the ninth, then was replaced by Kelly Wunsch. Manuel said he wanted to give some work to Wunsch, who was activated Friday from the disabled list.

Aaron Rowand had three hits for the White Sox, hitting a two-run homer. Carlos Lee also homered for Chicago, which trails the Royals by four games heading into a three-game series in Kansas City.

“I think the pieces are starting to come together,” Rowand said. “Guys are hitting the ball all the way up and down the lineup. We got it going right now and, hopefully, we can continue that.”

Joe Kennedy (3-8) gave up six runs—five earned—and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, dropping to 0-5 since winning at Toronto on May 13. He missed all of June and early July with inflammation in his left shoulder.

“I couldn’t locate my fastball. I didn’t get ahead, fell behind and that hurt,” Kennedy said.

Lee tied the game in the second with his 19th homer, a line drive that barely cleared the fence in left, and Chicago went ahead in the third when Miguel Olivo scored from second when Rowand’s dribbler to third was thrown away by Damian Rolls for an error.

Paul Konerko had a two-run double in the fourth, and Thomas had a two-run homer in the fifth, his 25th of the season. Thomas added a run-scoring single in the sixth off Brandon Backe.

Rowand hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Lance Carter.

Notes

The game started following a 36-minute rain delay. … The teams split their six-game season series. … Ordonez is hitting .593 over his last eight games. … After going 0-9 in one-run games in June, Tampa Bay is 6-2 thismonth.

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