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It was one of those days White Sox fans dream about when they're shoveling out their parking spaces on an ice-cold December morning.
A 9-4 victory over the Cubs on a perfect afternoon before 38,526 at U.S. Cellular Field gave the Sox a 2-1 edge in the first round of the city series and had black-clad fans grinning all the way to the parking lots.
By the time they finally got on the Dan Ryan, they were treated to the news that the Sox had acquired Seattle Mariners' ace Freddy Garcia, filling a hole in the rotation that could give them a leg up on Minnesota in the American League Central race.
"Coming back and winning two games against the Cubs, you've got a little momentum going," Paul Konerko said. "And now Freddy will be throwing [Wednesday] in the Minnesota series."
The Sox moved to within one game of the first-place Twins as they head to Minneapolis for the start of a three-game showdown Tuesday night, while the Cubs dropped five behind St. Louis in the National League Central with Houston coming to Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.
Sammy Sosa hit a pair of long-distance homers, his first since May 15, the day before his sneeze-related back injury put him out of action. But Cubs starter Greg Maddux (6-6) was hammered in a four-inning outing, yielding nine runs (seven earned) on 11 hits and two walks.
"Those White Sox just keep coming and coming," Sosa said. "We played great. Nothing wrong with that."
Esteban Loaiza (8-3) blew two early leads but scattered 10 hits over six innings to earn his fourth straight victory. Konerko, who drove in three runs Sunday, was a one-man wrecking crew against the Cubs this weekend with a pair of three-run home runs and nine RBIs.
"Having Magglio [Ordonez] out of the lineup, somebody's got to step up and do some damage," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He did. Without a bat like Magglio's, everybody's got to chip in and help us to win."
Konerko's two-run single in the first got the Sox on track, but Sosa cranked a center-field homer to lead off the second, and the Cubs tied it on a bases-loaded fielder's choice by Paul Bako. Miguel Olivo, who was later traded in the Garcia deal, homered in the second to put the Sox up 3-2. Then Sosa's two-run, opposite-field shot in the third made it 4-3 Cubs.
But Maddux had problems locating his pitches all day, and after Konerko's sacrifice fly tied it in the third, Timo Perez's two-run shot gave the Sox a 6-4 lead. Bako's throwing error to second on a pitchout in the fourth set up the seventh Sox run, and Aramis Ramirez's second error enabled two more runs to come home in the fifth.
After the Cubs won the first game of the series, Sox outfielder Carlos Lee had a salsa CD blasting over the sound system as the team stretched before Saturday's game. Relaxed and confident, the Sox responded by bashing Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano and continued their assault on Maddux on Sunday.
"We think we were playing the World Series, the way the fans were and everybody on the streets of Chicago was so excited about this series," Guillen said. "Going to Minnesota, hopefully that helps us."
The Cubs left licking their wounds after a 2-4 road trip to St. Louis and the South Side but know they'll get another shot at the Sox next weekend at Wrigley Field.
"Overall, the fact we won one game from these guys is a pretty big deal because they've got a great team," second baseman Todd Walker said. "You can't do anything about the fact the Cardinals haven't lost against anyone but us for, it seems like, all month long. The fact we're five games out really doesn't bother us because, eventually, the Cardinals have got to take a turn for the worse."