Athletics 7, White Sox 2

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CHICAGO (AP)—Ramon Hernandez went to the plate with more than just simple singles on his mind.

Hernandez homered twice and drove in a career-high five runs as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-2 Saturday night.

“Every time, I tried to hit it hard,” Hernandez said.

With the Kansas City Royals’ 6-2 win over Tampa Bay, Chicago fell out of the top spot of the AL Central, which they held for a day. The White Sox are a half-game behind the Royals.

The A’s have won 13 of their last 19 games and remain two games behind the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners, who defeated the New York Yankees 2-1 Saturday.

Chad Bradford (6-3), who spent part of three seasons with the White Sox before being traded for Miguel Olivo in December of 2000, pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings of relief for the win. It was his first appearance since pitching an inning against Cleveland on July 31st.

“I hadn’t pitched in a while. It felt good. The starters have been going so deep into the game, we haven’t really had to be in there,” Bradford said. “I just came in and tried to pitch them like any other team.”

Oakland scored three runs in the first inning off White Sox starter Jon Garland.

Scott Hatteberg reached safely on first baseman Paul Konerko’s error to lead off the game. Jose Guillen bunted safely, and one out later, Miguel Tejada drove in Hatteberg on a bloop single to left. Garland (8-8) struck out Eurbiel Durazo then gave up Hernandez’s two-run double off the left-field fence for a 3-0 lead. Carlos Lee may have had a chance at catching the ball, but lost it in the sun.

“It was right in my face, I couldn’t see it at all. If the sun wasn’t there it was a totally different game,” Lee said.

Guillen drove in Mark Ellis with an RBI single in the second inning.

The A’s took a 6-0 lead in the third. Garland gave up a lead off single to Durazo and Hernandez followed by hitting an 0-1 pitch into the right-center stands.

Hernandez hit a solo home run, his 16th, off former Oakland closer Billy Koch in the ninth. It was his third career multihomer game and his first of the season.

Koch has allowed 11 earned runs over 11 innings of his last 11 outings since July 4, the day he was replaced as the White Sox’s closer.

“Obviously a lot of it has to be location,” White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. “I think these guys know him pretty well.”

Oakland starter Ted Lilly gave up back-to-back doubles leading off the fifth. Konerko doubled down the left-field line and Crede followed with a double to right, scoring Konerko. One out later, Jamie Burke drove in Crede with a single. It was Burke’s first major league RBI. Tony Graffanino and Aaron Rowand both followed with singles, loading the bases and chasing Lilly.

Bradford came in and struck out Frank Thomas and got Magglio Ordonez to ground out to end the inning. The submarine throwing right-hander struck out five and walked one.

“Bradford came in and got some huge outs in the heart of the order when we needed it,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “We know how valuable Bradford is.”

Lilly pitched 4 1-3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits.

“I felt like I ran out of gas, which rarely happens to me,” Lilly said. “It’s frustrating. I didn’t want to put us in a position to lose with some edge taken off my fastball.”

Garland gave up six runs, three earned and nine hits in five innings. ^Notes: White Sox 2B Roberto Alomar had the night off. … The A’s are 5-3 in August this season and are 51-14 in the month of August since 2001. … Thomas went 1-for-4 and is 4-for-33 in his last nine games. … Ordonez went 0-for-4; he is 5-for-34 in his last nine games. … The White Sox club record of hitting a home run in 19 consecutive home games came to an end. … Sandy Alomar Jr. lost control of his bat after striking out to end the game. The bat struck awoman in the stands. She was treated for bruised ribs.

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