White Sox 7, Indians 1

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CHICAGO (AP)—Jon Rauch stuck around to enjoy the victory. Really, he had little choice—his left arm was literally handcuffed to his locker.

The 6-foot-11 righty atoned for an earlier episode when he left the clubhouse before a game was over and led the White Sox past the Cleveland Indians 7-1 Thursday.

“I made a stupid mistake and I’m not making it now,” Rauch said, showing his handcuffed wrist, a prank courtesy of teammate Mark Buehrle.

“It doesn’t bother me at all. It’s all in good fun,” Rauch said.

Jose Valentin hit a three-run homer in the first inning and the White Sox tacked on four runs in the eighth. In between, Aaron Rowand made two stellar catches in center field to protect the lead.

In the fifth, Rowand ran down Jody Gerut’s long liner and crashed into the center-field wall at full speed, but held onto the ball.

“I knew there were runners on base and I knew I needed to get to it. If I run into the wall, I run into the wall,” Rowand said.

“But the play needed to be made. I knew if I didn’t make the play, it would be a tie ball game at that point.”

In the eighth, with the score still 3-1, Rowand leaped at the fence to catch Casey Blake’s drive.

“Rowand, straight up Rowand. A fantastic play. It’s why I’m standing here with a smile on my face,” Rauch said. “If he doesn’t make that catch, it’s a different ball game.”

Chicago’s fifth starters had been 0-8 this season before Rauch (1-1) limited the Indians to one run in five innings. He gave up six hits, and White Sox relievers held the Indians hitless.

In his only other start this year, Rauch was roughed up by Anaheim for five runs and 10 hits in just 3 2-3 innings on May 29.

Not only did he lose that game to the Angels, he lost the respect of his teammates and angered general manager Kenny Williams with an early exit from the locker room.

Williams said at the time Rauch jeopardized his chances of ever pitching for the White Sox again. Rauch apologized, saying it was a misunderstanding.

The White Sox decided to give him another opportunity, recalling him from Triple-A on Sunday.

“I think the way he left the feeling in the clubhouse last time he was pitching, I think he got more pressure on himself to improve and to fit in the clubhouse or to fit with the team,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.

“He pitched really well. Believe me, this was a big game for us.”

Second baseman Ronnie Belliard’s error on Juan Uribe’s grounder opened the way for the White Sox in the first. After Carlos Lee singled with two outs, Valentin drove his 14th homer to deep center off Jake Westbrook (6-4). The Indians starter didn’t allow an earned run in six strong innings, allowing just four hits.

“I made a decent pitch and he got it. He put a good swing on it,” said Westbrook.

Coco Crisp doubled in the fifth and scored on Matt Lawton’s single, and the Indians threatened for more after Omar Vizquel followed with another single.

“We’ve got to get at least one more run there. It’s a big difference between 3-1 and 3-2,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said.

But after Rauch retired the next two batters, Rowand made the play of the game.

“Rowand made a couple of great plays in center and that was the difference,” Wedge said.

With help from Rowand, Rauch won back some respect from his teammates and perhaps solved Chicago’s season-long problem with the No. 5 starter.

“I’ll pitch whenever they want me to,” Rauch said just before the cuffswere removed. “I’m just glad I’m still here.”


The White Sox have homered in 19 straight home games. … Indians lefty Cliff Lee, who beat the White Sox on Wednesday night to run his record to 7-1, decided to drop his appeal of a six-game suspension for throwing a pitch behind Ken Griffey Jr. on June 12. … Cleveland finished 5-5 on a tough 10-game road trip in which the Indians played the Mets, Braves and White Sox. … The next home game for the White Sox figures to be much more spirited. The Cubs come toU.S. Cellular Field on Friday to open a three-game interleague series.

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