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White Sox bats booming yet again
Jim Thome played in only his 22nd game Tuesday night and started in only his second consecutive game since missing more than three weeks with a strained right rib cage.
But he looked like he was in midseason form as he paced the White Sox to a 10-4 victory over Oakland with a 3-for-3, five-RBI performance.
"I think the main thing for me isn't that I'm not in playing shape, it's getting back into game shape and seeing pitches and getting my legs back under me," Thome said.
Thome's return and subsequent contribution virtually has coincided with the resurrection of the Sox offense. The Sox pounded Oakland's American League-leading pitching staff for the second consecutive game with a 13-hit attack, marking their fourth consecutive game with 10 hits or more.
"It looks like when Jim Thome is in the starting lineup, everyone is relaxed," manager Ozzie Guillen said after the Sox (23-19) won their third consecutive game.
They also provided a large cushion for rookie John Danks (3-4), who won his third straight start.
The offense has scored 34 runs during this four-game stretch. The 10 runs were the most the Sox have scored against the Athletics since 2002.
With Thome batting in the third spot, more scoring opportunities are provided for Jermaine Dye and the rest of the order. That was evident in the first inning when Thome hit a two-out single that set up Dye's two-run homer off Oakland starter Colby Lewis.
The homer was Dye's fourth in six games and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Dye is 3-for-7 with a homer in the last two games batting behind Thome.
Thome, who missed 18 games, made up for lost time.
In the second inning, he poked a two-out, two-run double to cap a four-run rally.
And in the fourth, Thome lined a three-run homer over the visitor's bullpen in right field to extend the Sox lead to 10-1. The homer was Thome's first since April 18, when he hit two to support Mark Buehrle's no-hitter against Texas.
Thome has 478 homers, trailing Frank Thomas (492) and Alex Rodriguez (482) among players approaching the 500-mark.
Thome also drew his 27th walk of the season in the sixth, moving him into sole possession of 25th place on the all-time list with 1,392.
Thome batted third for most of last season until hamstring problems prompted Guillen to drop him to the fifth spot, with Dye moving to third.
Regular cleanup hitter Paul Konerko batted in the fifth spot for the fourth consecutive game, going 1-for-3 and extending his hitting streak to five games. Konerko has raised his batting average 29 points to .217 during that span.
The bottom of the Sox order—Pablo Ozuna, Rob Mackowiak and Alex Cintron—went a combined 5-for-12 with five runs.
The Sox made two errors that led to two runs in the fifth, but the Sox also turned in three exceptional defensive plays.
Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi ranged quickly to his right to snag Mark Ellis' line drive and turn it into a double play in the second, and he made a diving catch of Dan Johnson's liner in the eighth.
Danks, however, turned in the most amazing play when he made a behind-the-back, back-handed stop to retire Jack Cust in the sixth.
Danks wasn't sharp, but the run support and defense compensated him well as the Sox starters have pitched at least six innings in 26 of their last 27 games.
And the large lead enabled the bullpen to get some work in without much pressure.
The only speed bump occurred in the ninth when beleaguered left-hander Andrew Sisco allowed a run on a walk and two hits after two outs. That prompted closer Bobby Jenks to warm up before Sisco retired Nick Swisher on a fly to center.