As a youth, Brandon McCarthy was a proud card-carrying member of the Frank Thomas Fan Club.
McCarthy might want to start fan clubs for some of his teammates, as well as renew his membership with Thomas.
The White Sox bailed out the 21-year-old McCarthy and reliever Luis Vizcaino with a 17-hit attack Monday night that vaulted them to an 11-8 victory over Kansas City and extended their winning streak to five games.
The Sox pushed their lead over idle Minnesota to a season-high eight games in the American League Central.
They scored in five of the first six innings to entertain a U.S. Cellular Field crowd of 34,345, including 9,178 in walk-up sales on half-price night.
"It was nice for the offense to keep going to the well, but it was there," said Paul Konerko, who hit his 18th home run, a three-run shot, in the first inning off Jose Lima. "It got a little hairy when they tied it, but it was nice to actually score a lot of runs, and we actually needed it."
Thomas increased his home-run total to six in only 32 at-bats with a solo shot in the third. It tied him with Dave Kingman for 29th place on the all-time list with 442 homers.
"It's good to hit behind him because he takes pitches," Konerko said. "Even when he has a tough game or doesn't get any hits, he squeezes a walk and makes the pitchers throw."
The Sox have hit 17 home runs in their last eight games. Jermaine Dye also chipped in with his 14th homer in the fifth.
The Sox, however, didn't rely solely on power. After Dye's homer, A.J. Pierzynski, who was in a 2-for-25 slump, laid down a bunt single along the third-base line. But his biggest contribution was a 200-foot, bases-loaded single with two outs in the sixth that allowed the Sox to retake the lead at 10-8.
"We kept battling back, and it just seemed to [upset] them," Kansas City designated hitter Matt Stairs said.
Neal Cotts came the closest to qualifying as a pitching savior in the slugfest. Cotts continued his excellence by hurling 2 1/3 scoreless innings to slow down a pesky Royals offense.
"Cotts is our MVP the last two to three weeks," manager Ozzie Guillen said after Cotts extended his scoreless streak to 13 innings covering his last nine appearances.
That alleviated some of the concern about McCarthy, who was tagged for six runs on seven hits and four walks in 42/3 innings. McCarthy, taking the place of the injured Orlando Hernandez, committed a balk with the bases loaded on an 0-2 count to Stairs and was pulled after Stairs rallied to a 3-2 count and hit a two-run double that cut the Sox's lead to 7-6.
Guillen, though, virtually ruled out any thought of skipping McCarthy's next start against the Cubs on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.
"I doubt it," he said. "We have confidence in the kid. I am not going to say that I won't do it, but I am going to think about it."
McCarthy experienced trouble throwing his changeup but wasn't distressed by his outing."It's up to them," McCarthy said of his status for his next start. "I'd love to pitch in that atmosphere. ... I'm close to where I need to be."
The Sox's relentless style wasn't lost on Lima.
"Every day with them it's a different guy," he said. "[Monday], it was Pierzynski, and that's how they win games.
"Give them credit, they're not in first place by accident."