Thome puts on his own HR Derby

Jim Thome has no intention of participating in Monday's Home Run Derby at Pittsburgh.

The White Sox's designated hitter, however, displayed his own All-Star power act Thursday night.

Thome hit two homers, including a third-inning grand slam that traveled about 450 feet, to help the Sox beat Baltimore 11-8 at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Sox increased their American League-leading homer total to 128, but they needed four of them to hold off the Orioles while cutting their deficit to one game behind AL Central leader Detroit.

Thome's two home runs increased his season total to 29, keeping him tied with Boston's David Ortiz for the league lead heading into a three-game series here against the Red Sox.

Thome needs one more homer to reach the 30 mark for the 10th time in his last 11 seasons, which would be remarkable considering lower back and elbow injuries limited him to 59 games last year with Philadelphia.

"I try not to get caught up in that," Thome said. "If you worry about that, it takes away from what you're trying to do in the long run. And the main thing is to stay under control and be on the field, do your [preparation] work, stay consistent and let the rest take care of itself."

Thome's slam capped a five-run third inning that started when shortstop Miguel Tejada committed a throwing error that allowed Juan Uribe to become the first of five consecutive batters to reach base safely.

Thome's slam came on a 3-1 pitch off starter Russ Ortiz and landed above the first row of ivy in center field.

Thome's slam was the eighth of his career and his first since July 28, 2002, against Detroit while playing for Cleveland. It also was the Sox's seventh slam of this season.

In the fifth, Thome poked an opposite-field, two-run shot over the left-field bullpen to extend the Sox's lead to 7-3.

This was Thome's 37th multihomer game and marked the fourth time he has driven in six runs. The last time he drove in six runs occurred on June 8, 2004, against the Sox while playing for Philadelphia.

The Sox scored at least 11 runs for the third time in five games, thanks to consecutive two-out homers in the seventh by Jermaine Dye and A.J. Pierzynski.

The Sox offense is batting .333 in its last 20 games, but Javier Vazquez (9-4) remained baffled by his inability to pitch with a lead. Vazquez was pulled in the middle of a jam with a 7-4 lead in the sixth. He has averaged nine runs of support in his starts but has a 5.15 ERA.

"The last month has been a struggle for me," said Vazquez, who has allowed 25 earned runs in his last five starts. "I don't know what it is. I'm throwing the ball well.

"Maybe it's one of those funks I'm in. It's not like when I was with the Yankees (in the second half of 2004) when I wasn't throwing well."

Manager Ozzie Guillen accepted blame for letting the struggling Cliff Politte start the ninth after Politte pitched a scoreless eighth. Politte was pulled after allowing three hits and a walk in the ninth.

"I'm not going to give up on him," Guillen said of Politte, who has allowed 11 runs in his past 6 1/3 innings.