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Loaiza schools Harden for win No. 15

Posted: Sunday August 10, 2003 5:24 PM
Updated: Sunday August 10, 2003 6:37 PM

  Esteban Loaiza Cruise control: Esteban Loaiza retired 17 of 18 batters between the second and seventh innings. AP

CHICAGO (AP) -- Esteban Loaiza is proving his skeptics wrong.

Loaiza allowed four hits over eight innings and Paul Konerko homered as the Chicago White Sox defeated the Oakland Athletics 5-1 Sunday.

"It's going my way; there is nothing I can do about it," Loaiza said. "Those doubters are probably biting their tongues right now."

The White Sox have won 17 of their last 22 games and remain a half game behind Kansas City in the AL West.

Loaiza (15-5) was impressive, outdueling rookie Rich Harden. He retired 17 of 18 batters between the second and seventh inning before giving up a double to Scott Hatteberg.

Jose Guillen can't figure out how Loaiza has gone from a mediocre pitcher to one of the most dominating in baseball.

"I've faced Loaiza before. I don't know where he learned some of these pitches. He wasn't that nasty before," Guillen said after going 0-for-4 with a strike out.

Damaso Marte pitched the ninth to finish the four-hitter.

Loaiza's AL-leading ERA dropped from 2.30 to 2.24. He allowed Adam Melhuse's homer in the eighth, while striking out six in winning his fourth straight decision.

"You expect excellence when he takes the mound," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said.

Harden (3-1) failed to go six innings for the first time in five big league starts. In five innings, he allowed two runs on six hits and left after throwing 109 pitches. He struck out eight, including the side in the first, and walked one.

"I think the key of the game today was to make him work, make him throw pitches after pitches," Roberto Alomar said. "The guy had already 107 pitches by the fifth inning. I thinks that's why we got him in the end."

The White Sox scored twice in the fifth. Alomar singled with two outs and Lee followed with a triple to right. Thomas followed with an RBI double to left.

"The last few starts I've been working through some things but I thought I had some good stuff today," Harden said. "They're a good bunch of hitters and kept me from going deeper in the game."

Konerko homered off A's reliever John Halama in the sixth. It was Konerko's 12th home run of the season.

Everett hit a solo homer and Joe Crede added an RBI single off Oakland reliever Chad Harville in the eighth. Crede's bloop single drove in Konerko from first after Guillen and Miguel Tejada collided going after the ball. Guillen was down for a minute but stayed in the game.

Harden was able to pitch himself out of trouble fourth. He gave up back-to-back singles to Magglio Ordonez and Carl Everett with one out then struck out Konerko on a wild pitch that moved Ordonez and Everett over to second and third. Jose Valentin struck out end the inning.

Notes: Harden's ERA rose from 1.33 to 1.69. ... Lee slipped and fell on his back, but was still able to catch Eurbiel Durazo's fly ball in the seventh inning. ... Konerko has hit in 13 of his last 14 games.

 
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