No sweep, but good vibes

The White Sox lost Sunday's battle with Oakland, but they may have won a war of words.

Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle irked Oakland manager Art Howe on Friday night when he said: "We don't think they're that good of a team to beat us 10 games in a row."

Howe responded to Buehrle's expression of bravado Saturday by saying, "The record speaks for itself."

The Sox let their actions on the field do the talking over the weekend, winning two out of three. The A's avoided being swept, however, by eking out a 3-2 victory Sunday in front of 27,275 fans at Comiskey Park.

"We played two upper-division clubs and we were able to win the series," said manager Jerry Manuel after the Sox took four out of six against Seattle and Oakland.

The Sox travel to Texas on Monday to open a three-game series before heading to Anaheim for a weekend set.

"We're very satisfied with the way we played here at home. We have to be able to get some things right on the road," said Manuel, whose club is 12-4 at Comiskey Park and 7-8 on the road.

Oakland broke out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning off Sox starter Dan Wright (3-3) when David Justice led off with his fourth home run of the season. The Sox tied the game in the fourth on a single by Paul Konerko that drove in Tony Graffanino.

Wright paid for control problems in the fifth inning. Following a pair of one-out walks, Randy Velarde drove in a run with a base hit through the hole that barely eluded Graffanino at third.

"That was a big play," Manuel said. "The play to Graf's left barely got under his glove. Sometimes that's just the way the ball goes."

Graffanino, starting at third because Manuel wanted another right-handed batter against Oakland lefty Barry Zito (2-2), said there was nothing he could have done to prevent the key hit.

"It kind of took a strange hop," Graffanino said. "When it was first hit I thought I was going to be able to get it standing up. Then it kind of bounced sideways and I tried to lunge for it. It just got by me."

Scott Hatteberg followed with another RBI single for a 3-1 lead.

Frank Thomas closed out the scoring with homer to right field in the sixth inning. It was his sixth of the season and his first home run to straightaway right field since Sept. 18, 1998.

Zito allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, striking out four. Jim Mecir and Billy Koch combined in relief to fan five more Sox batters during three innings of hitless relief, with Koch earning his seventh save.

"That was a great pitched game on both sides. We just couldn't get it done," said Thomas, who went 2-for-4 and improved his average to .277.

Meanwhile, Buehrle stuck by his statement that seemed to hit a nerve in the Oakland locker room.

"It had nothing to do with [the A's] or us thinking we were overconfident," Buehrle said. "I wasn't saying it just because we won the first two games here. I just don't think any team is good enough to beat this team 10 games in a row. If we don't believe that, then we'll go out and get our butts beat.

"We have to have confidence, and it has nothing to do with us being cocky and talking [trash]. That's the way I feel and I think a lot of guys on this team feel the same way."

Howe sounded as if he wants to put the matter to rest. "That's a talented team over there," he said. "We're happy to get this win and get out of here."