AMERICAN LEAGUE ROUNDUP : After a Slow Start, Thomas Is a Big Hit

In less than two full seasons in the majors, Frank Thomas has established himself as one of the American League's hitting stars.

The Chicago White Sox first baseman had some trouble getting started this season, but he's hitting well now.

Thomas hit a two-out home run in the 10th inning to carry the White Sox to a 4-3 victory Friday night at Baltimore, their sixth win in a row.

It was Thomas's second home run of the game and fourth of the season, and when he hit bullpen ace Gregg Olson's 3-2 pitch, it gave him three runs batted in.

Thomas, who was batting .224 a couple of weeks ago, has hit safely in eight games in a row, going 11 for 24, with nine runs batted in and 12 walks. He has raised his average to .279.

The winning home run was the second given up by Olson this season. Last year he allowed only one home run all season. Thomas and Olson were former teammates at Auburn.

"It was a high fastball out of the strike zone," Thomas said. "Most times I wouldn't swing at that pitch. But this was one of those days when I felt I could put a good swing on any pitch.

"I felt great in batting practice. I felt like I could hit anything out of the park tonight."

As it turned out, he could.

The White Sox almost won it in the ninth, but with two out and a runner on second, shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. made a diving stop to prevent Craig Grebeck's grounder from going through to prevent the runner from scoring. Tim Raines then flied out to end the hreat.

Kansas City 2, Boston 1--It appears the Royals are out of their season-long slump.

The Royals, who lost 16 of their first 17 games, have won five of their last six.

Kevin Appier (2-3), who has the best earned-run average in the league (1.40), needed two unearned runs to get the victory.

Appier gave up seven hits and struck out eight in eight innings. Jeff Montgomery pitched the ninth to get his sixth save for a team that has won eight games.

Joe Hesketh (0-2) pitched well enough to win. He gave up only three hits, but errors by shortstop Luis Rivera and first baseman Mo Vaughn proved costly.

Texas 3, Milwaukee 2--After losing five home games in a row, the Rangers sent in their stopper, Kevin Brown at Arlington, Tex.

Brown, with help from the bullpen, improved his record to 5-2. He gave up eight hits in seven innings. Kenny Rogers and Jeff Russell preserved the victory.

It was the sixth loss in a row for the Brewers.

The Rangers, who trail the White Sox by 2 1/2 games in the West, are hard to figure. While they struggle at home, they have the best road record in the majors (13-6).

"Kevin set the tone," Texas Manager Bobby Valentine said. "He escaped a bases-loaded situation in the first and thereafter it was a crisp game.

Minnesota 7, Cleveland 4--Kirby Puckett and Greg Gagne each had four hits at Minneapolis to help the Twins end their three-game losing streak.

Scott Erickson didn't pitch too well, but the offense, which included a two-run home run by Gene Larkin, enabled him to win his second in a row.

Erickson (2-3) blew a 3-0 lead, but Larkin's homer in the fifth made him a winner. Erickson gave up four runs and 11 hits before the bullpen took over with two out in the sixth inning.

Detroit 7, Seattle 6--Lou Whitaker climaxed a five-run ninth inning rally at Seattle with a three-run home run.

It was the second consecutive game in which the Mariners lost by one run at home when the opposition scored five runs in the top of the ninth.

And, the loser in both games was Mike Schooler, who had 70 saves in the previous three seasons.

In both games, Schooler gave up a home run with two out. Dave Winfield beat him Thursday night with a grand slam.

Oakland 8, New York 6--Mark McGwire's three-run double capped a four-run eighth inning at Oakland and Dennis Eckersley pitched a perfect ninth to record his 200th save and 12th in 12 opportunities this season.

McGwire, who also drove in a run in the first inning, took over the league lead with 29, three more than the Angels' Junior Felix.

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