Thomas homers for second straight game in win

CHICAGO (AP) -- Just like last year, the Chicago White Sox are
salvaging their season after it's already over.

Frank Thomas homered for a second straight game Wednesday night,
leading the White Sox to a 3-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals
that got them back to .500 for the first time since June 20.

Chicago has now won five of its last six games, and 17 of 24.
But the victories are merely cosmetic now. The Minnesota Twins
wrapped up the AL Central long ago. Even with the late surge, the
White Sox are still 13 games behind.

"We had little things go wrong,'' said Jon Garland, who
scattered three hits in 5 1/3 innings for his fourth win in five
starts. "It really wasn't injuries. Just little things here and
there that didn't click.''

The Royals can identify with that. Kansas City has now lost 53
on the road this season, tying the club record set in 1970 and
matched in 1992. The Royals need to go 8-2 in their last 10 games
to avoid matching the club's record for total losses in a season

Jeff Suppan (8-16) lost his ninth straight decision, allowing
three runs and 11 hits in eight innings. He hasn't won since July
17, a span of 11 starts.

"I don't know the word for what happened out there,'' Suppan
said. "I just tried to concentrate on what I had to concentrate
on. Unfortunately, things didn't happen. It's been a tough year
with all these losses, but all I can do is keep trying out there.''

Garland (12-11) lasted just 5 1/3 innings. He threw 109 pitches
before being lifted after allowing back-to-back walks in the sixth.

Damaso Marte pitched the ninth for his 10th save.

"I threw way too many pitches,'' Garland said. "It's not like
I walked a lot of guys.''

Decimated by injuries early in the year, the White Sox had to
make a second-half push to salvage last season, too. After being 15
games under .500 on May 24, 2001, Chicago managed to finish with an
83-79 record.

While the White Sox probably won't improve that record much in
the next 10 games, the contributions they're getting from their
younger players give them something to build on for next year.

Take the go-ahead rally Wednesday night. With the game tied at 1
in the fourth, Magglio Ordonez led off with a single. Two outs
later, rookies Joe Crede and Joe Borchard singled to load the

That brought up Miguel Olivo, who was playing in only his second
major league game. Olivo has already shown the White Sox his power,
hitting a three-run homer off Andy Pettitte on Sunday in his first

This time he showed his savvy at the plate, drawing a four-pitch
walk from Suppan to force in the go-ahead run.

"I don't worry that I'm going to strike out,'' Olivo said. "If
I strike out, I strike out. I'm just looking for the right pitch to

Thomas added an insurance run with a solo homer in the seventh,
his 26th of the season.

This may be the worst season of his career -- he's hitting just
.247 -- but at least the two-time MVP is finishing strong. He's
hitting .367 with four homers and 13 RBI in September.

"That's very encouraging for him to be swinging the bat the way
he is and consistently hitting balls hard,'' manager Jerry Manuel
said. "I think it'll be good for him and the team to see the big
guy still be able to hit balls out of the park, put runs up and be
the productive hitter he can be.''

Game notes
Garland is now a career 5-2 against the Royals, including a
3-0 record at Comiskey Park. ... The 11 hits allowed by Suppan were
his second-most of the year. He gave up 14 on July 23 against
Detroit. ... Royals DH Raul Ibanez was in the lineup after missing
the last five games with a sprained left thumb. ... Major league
baseball sent a group of 15 people to Comiskey Park on Wednesday
for the first on-site meeting about the 2003 All-Star game.