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SportsBaseballJuan UribeChicago White SoxPaul KonerkoBobby JenksAmerican League

Jim Thome was treated more like a Cleveland enemy Monday night than a former Indians great who hit 334 home runs in 12 seasons here.

But after absorbing boos in his first visit to Jacobs Field since signing with the Phillies as a free agent after the 2002 season, Thome got the last laugh.

Thome's RBI single with two out in the ninth inning set off a mild celebration and relief in the dugout as the White Sox held on for 8-6 victory.

Thome's single helped save the Sox from the potential embarrassment of losing a seven-run lead over their American League Central rivals.Two errors and Brandon McCarthy's struggles eventually led to Travis Hafner's seventh-inning grand slam.

"I expect us to win every game when we score that many runs because of our pitching staff," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.

The Sox have won eight straight and 10 of 11 in Cleveland.

The Indians put the tying run at first in the ninth, but closer Bobby Jenks struck out Ronnie Belliard and Todd Hollandsworth to end the game and extend the Sox winning streak to four in a game that took 3 hours 44 minutes.

The Sox stole seven bases, equaling their highest total since July 22, 2001 against Boston. Scott Podsednik doubled his season total with four steals.

Thome's warmest reception occurred during pregame introductions when the videoboard showed two of his home runs in a Cleveland uniform, but that drew only a mixed reaction.

In each of his five at-bats, the boos grew louder, with one front-row fan leaning over the Sox dugout to yell at Thome after he returned to the dugout.

"Brutal," Guillen said of the cold reception Thome received. "It was disappointing. Jim did a lot of great things for this team."

Tension between the two teams surfaced when Indians starting pitcher Cliff Lee nailed A.J. Pierzynski in the third.

Pierzynski gained a measure of revenge when third baseman Aaron Boone obstructed his path to third base on Juan Uribe's grounder. Pierzynski and Rob Mackowiak then scored when Boone let Brian Anderson's two-out grounder roll through his legs for a 5-0 lead.

The Sox sent a retaliatory message in the third when Javier Vazquez (3-1) sailed a 1-0 pitch behind Belliard. Home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg immediately warned both teams as Belliard stared into the Sox's dugout for several seconds.

The Sox defense, which had committed only 13 errors in the first 24 games, suffered an untimely lapse in the sixth that ruined Vazquez's shutout bid and extended his pitch count.

Podsednik dropped a fly in left field that would have been the final out of the inning. Instead, Podsednik's miscue advanced Jhonny Peralta to third and Peralta scored when second baseman Tadahito Iguchi mishandled Ben Broussard's grounder.

Vazquez was pulled after six innings and 100 pitches. Then McCarthy's troubles resumed.

After getting the first out in the seventh, McCarthy allowed the next four batters to reach base safely, capped by Hafner's slam that cut the lead to 7-5. McCarthy has allowed seven runs in three outings on this eight-game trip that concludes Tuesday.

The slam also took away the cushion the Sox built in the first inning when Paul Konerko hit a three-run homer to right-center field off Lee on a 3-0 count.

But the Sox missed chances to add more insurance. Juan Uribe flied to left with a runner at second to end the first.

Podsednik had his first four-hit game of the season but took a called third strike with runners at second and third to end the third.

mgonzales@tribune.com

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