Thome's two HRs, six RBI power White Sox past Orioles

CHICAGO (AP) -- Jim Thome is back to his old form after suffering through an injury-plagued season in 2005 with the Phillies.

Thome hit two homers and matched his career high with six RBI to lead the Chicago White Sox to an 11-8 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

"He's a monster. It's just unbelievable what that guy can do when he is swinging the bat well, if you throw it over the plate it's going to be hit out. It's just that simple," said teammate Paul Konerko. "He's got all those home runs for a reason. We're just glad he is on our side. It's a great thing because he had a rough year last year with the injury, he's a first-class guy and everybody is so happy for him."

Thome hit a grand slam in the third inning and a two-run shot in the fifth and is tied with David Ortiz for the American League lead with 29 homers.

"It's a long season. You understand that there is going to be those ups and downs and with the lineup we have, the fortunate thing is we got guys that can step up all down through our lineup and I think that's been a big key for us," said Thome. "It's kind of contagious when or two guys get going, it seems that the other guys want to join in and it's great."

The White Sox took three of four games from the Orioles to win their ninth consecutive series and now have won 16 of their last 20 games.

Baltimore has dropped six of its last eight games.

Chicago also got back-to-back homers from Jermaine Dye and A.J. Pierzynski in the seventh inning. Dye hit a three-run homer to left off Orioles reliever Todd Williams and then two pitches later, Pierzynski homered to right.

Trailing 11-5 in the ninth, the Orioles rallied for three runs with two outs. Miguel Tejada had an RBI double and Jeff Conine had
a two-run single. Matt Thornton pitched the ninth for his first save in two chances.

White Sox starter Javier Vazquez (9-4) stuck around long enough to earn the victory. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs and five hits.

With a 3-0 lead in the third inning, Baltimore starter Russ Ortiz started to unravel in part to a costly throwing error by Tejada. With one out in the inning, Juan Uribe hit a routine grounder to Tejada at short, but he made a high throw to first that Kevin Millar couldn't handle allowing Uribe to reach.

Brian Anderson and Scott Podsednik followed with back-to-back singles, loading the bases. Then Ortiz walked Alex Cintron on a 3-2 count scoring Uribe. Thome then belted his eighth career grand slam, giving the White Sox a 5-3 lead.

"I was ready for anything, I really wasn't thinking about any type of pitch. I was just thinking about staying through the middle of the field and not pulling off the ball," said Thome.

In the fifth inning, after Cintron's single, Thome hit an opposite-field homer to left, making it 7-3. It was Thome's 37th multihomer game and his second of the season.

Thome's grand slam was measured at 447 feet.

"I think he is the strongest [hitter in baseball] and he is [tied] for the league in home runs. I don't think you see any chip shots with him, every one is like 400-plus feet," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Ortiz started for the second time for Baltimore since signing a contract on June 25 after being designated for assignment by Arizona on June 13 following 1½ frustrating seasons.

After earning a four-year, $33 million free-agent deal following a 21-7 season with Atlanta in 2003, Ortiz was 5-16 with a 7.00 ERA in 28 starts with Arizona.

The Diamondbacks cut Ortiz loose despite owing him almost $22 million. Ortiz was 0-5 in six starts this season.

Ortiz (0-1) allowed seven runs in five innings.

"Except for obviously Jim Thome's at-bats, gosh, I felt great, I felt a lot better than last time," said Ortiz. "Two pitches to him basically did us in."

Tejada had helped give Baltimore a 3-0 lead with an RBI double in the third inning.

He finished 3-for-5 with three doubles and two RBI.

Game notes
Thome's last multihomer game came May 9 at Cleveland. Thome has had four games with six RBI. The most recent one came on June
8, 2004, against the White Sox as a member of the Phillies. ... Before the game, Orioles designated outfielder Luis Matos for assignment and purchased the contract of outfielder Luis Terrero from Triple-A Ottawa. ... Dye hit his 22nd homer of the season and extended his hitting
streak to 10-games. ... Pierzynski hit his sixth homer of the season. ... White Sox have hit seven grand slams this season. ... Thome's last grand slam came July 28, 2002, against Detroit as a member of the Indians.