CHICAGO (AP) -- Billy Koch was the AL's top closer last year, and
he's saved at least 30 games in each of the last four seasons.
But with two runners on, two outs, Eric Chavez at the plate and
a victory over Koch's old team hanging in the balance, Chicago
White Sox manager Jerry Manuel wasn't taking any chances.
In an unusual move, Manuel replaced his closer with Damaso
Marte. As Koch steamed in the dugout, Marte retired Chavez on a
grounder to seal Chicago's 7-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics
on Thursday night.
"It was more of a feel thing," Manuel said. "I thought Billy
was throwing the ball well, but I felt he was probably a little too
The A's and White Sox swapped closers in the offseason, Keith
Foulke for Koch. But so far, the A's have gotten the better of the
deal. Foulke has seven saves and a 2.03 ERA, while Koch has two
blown saves and an 7.82 ERA. He's allowed allowed five home runs --
and he almost gave up a couple more Thursday night.
Erubiel Durazo singled to bring up Chavez, who already had one
homer, and that was enough for Manuel. Koch barely waited for the
manager to get to the mound, and he didn't look at Manuel as he
handed him the ball and walked off the field. He tossed his glove
into the stands and kicked a bat in the dugout.
He refused to comment after the game, dressing quickly and
leaving the clubhouse.
"I can understand his frustration," Manuel said. "And at some
point, we'll have a conversation. I do not want him to be looking
over his shoulder all the time. It was just a manager's gut at that
"At the same time, I want him to know, 'You've got to get the
Almost lost in the tension was the fact the White Sox won the
game. Magglio Ordonez went 3-for-5 with a home run, and Miguel
Olivo hit a solo homer as Chicago won for just the fourth time in
AL MVP Miguel Tejada, dropped to fifth in the batting order
because of his slow start, homered for the first time in more than
a week. Chavez also went deep, but it wasn't enough as the A's had
their season-high six-game winning streak stopped.
"You are not going to play a perfect game every night," A's
manager Ken Macha said.
After managing just nine hits in their first two games against
Oakland, the White Sox finally found an answer for their sputtering
offense: A's starter John Halama (1-2). Halama, who hasn't won
since his first start, allowed six runs -- four earned -- and nine
hits in just 3 1/3 innings.
Jon Garland (2-2) wasn't a whole lot better, giving up five runs
-- four earned -- four hits and four walks in five innings. But he
limited most of the damage to the second inning, and his teammates
picked him up.
Garland breezed through the first inning, retiring the A's
1-2-3. But he gave up a leadoff walk to Chavez, and it got ugly
After falling behind 0-2, Tejada homered to center field to tie
the game at 2. It was his fifth home run of the year, and his first
since April 22.
Terrence Long and Chris Singleton drew walks, and Oakland loaded
the bases on shortstop Jose Valentin's error _ all without a single
out. But Garland escaped the jam with only a sacrifice fly by
Hatteberg, and the White Sox offense took over from there.
Graffanino's RBI double in the second tied the game, and the
White Sox took a 4-3 lead on Ordonez's first-pitch, leadoff homer
in the third.
Mark Johnson tied the game at 4 with an RBI double in the
fourth, but the White Sox took advantage of some sloppy Oakland
fielding to take the lead for good.
Olivo reached on an error to start the fourth, and Graffanino
beat out a bunt single down the first-base line when Halama
couldn't grab the rain-slick ball. After a sacrifice bunt by
Valentin, Thomas hit an RBI single.
Jeremy Fikac relieved and loaded the bases on Ordonez's single,
and Graffanino scored on Lee's groundout. The White Sox made it 7-4
on Olivo's solo homer in the fifth.
"It was nice to see us put some runs on the board," Manuel
said. "But it was a little disappointing Jon was struggling pretty
much the whole time."
Tejada finished 1-for-4. ... Garland's win was his second
straight. ... White Sox reliever Kelly Wunsch gave up his first hit
of the season, a single to Eric Byrnes in the sixth. Wunsch had
retired 21 batters without allowing a hit.