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Koch, Chicago hold on in wild ninth

5/6/2004

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Chicago White Sox were poised to close out
a comfortable victory -- by their standards -- when suddenly they
found themselves in another thriller.

As is usually the case this season, Chicago held on.

Barely.

Juan Uribe's triple keyed a seventh-inning rally, and Billy Koch
and the White Sox survived a wild ninth to beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 Wednesday night.

Down 6-4, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth
against Koch.

After Javy Lopez hit a sacrifice fly, Jay Gibbons grounded into
a forceout that moved the tying run to third. But Koch retired Luis Matos on a tapper to first for his fifth save.

Magglio Ordonez had three hits and emergency sub Miguel Olivo
drove in two runs and scored one for the White Sox, who improved to
11-1 in one-run games -- best in the majors.

"I wish it could be easier," Ordonez said, "but I guess we
have to get used to it."

Rookie manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't complaining. Not with his
team in first place in the AL Central with a 17-10 record.

"It's great," he said. "They believe in themselves, and they
fight until the end. We have been playing solid baseball, doing the
little things to win games."

Gibbons and Lopez homered, and rookie Darnell McDonald had three
hits for the Orioles, who have lost seven of 10. Baltimore got 12
hits and received five walks, but stranded 11 runners.

"Bases loaded and no outs in the ninth, we thought we might
come away with more than one run, but we fell a little short,"
Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "It just didn't happen."

Olivo, who entered in the second inning for injured catcher Sandy Alomar, led off the seventh with a double off starter Sidney Ponson.

B.J. Ryan (1-1) then retired Willis Harris on a foul popup, but
Uribe followed with a liner into the gap in right-center to tie it at
4.

"It was just a bad pitch, left over the plate, and he did what
you're supposed to do with it," Ryan said.

The Orioles then drew their infield in, a move that backfired
when Ordonez hit a blooper that eluded the glove of retreating
second baseman Brian Roberts.

Pinch hitter Aaron Rowand doubled in a run in the eighth off
Ryan to make it 6-4, and the White Sox held on.

"It doesn't matter how it happens, as long as it's a win,"
Ordonez said.

Shingo Takatsu (2-0) pitched a scoreless inning in relief of
Mark Buehrle, who gave up 10 hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
The left-hander is winless in four starts since April 10.

Chicago went up 2-0 in the second. Paul Konerko drew a leadoff
walk and Timo Perez doubled before Olivo hit a two-run single.
Olivo hit for Alomar, who left the game with a cramp in his right
hip.

Baltimore drew even in the third when Melvin Mora drew a
bases-loaded walk and Miguel Tejada followed with a sacrifice fly.

Gibbons hit his fourth homer leading off the fourth, but Chicago
tied it at 3 in the fifth when Ordonez hit a two-out single and
scored on a double by Frank Thomas.

Lopez led off the sixth with his fourth homer to put the Orioles
up 4-3. The drive, which traveled an estimated 404 feet, was his
first in 16 games and snapped a 6-for-40 skid.

But Ponson couldn't make the lead stand up.

"They gave me the lead twice, and I gave it back," he said.
"We should have won this game, easy."

Game notes
Chicago's run of successive games with a homer ended at 15,
two short of the franchise record. ... Roberts went 2-for-5 to
extend his hitting streak to nine games. He is 18-for-40 (.450)
over that span. ... Perez went 1-for-3 and is 8-for-13 lifetime
against Baltimore with three doubles and a triple. ... The Orioles'
run of 13 straight steals ended when Mora was caught in the first
inning.