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Vazquez can't finish perfecto, but White Sox still slam Royals

CHICAGO (AP) -- The evidence was there from the start, when the
first batter lunged at a pitch and struck out.

Javier Vazquez was in control. And the Kansas City Royals
couldn't stop him.

Vazquez took a perfect game into the sixth inning and won his
fourth straight start in the Chicago White Sox's 9-2 victory over
the Royals on Saturday night

"I can't say it was my best stuff," he said. "I've felt
better at other times. The key is that my pitches were working. I
was throwing strikes."

Vazquez (4-1) kept the Royals off-balance, lunging at sharp
curves. He allowed two runs on four hits, struck out six -- all in
the first five innings -- and did not walk a batter.

Angel Berroa doubled to the wall in left on a 1-2 pitch leading
off the sixth to end the perfect game bid, and scored from third on
a double-play grounder by Paul Bako that made it 6-1.

"Back in his Montreal days, I thought he was one of the top
players in the National League," said Kansas City's Matt Stairs,
who was 0-for-3. "You can tell that he's back to the form that he
(had) then."

Chicago's Jim Thome homered in his third straight game,
connecting for a three-run shot in the fifth that made it 6-0.
Slumping Brian Anderson homered leading off the third inning and
had two hits in his first start since Tuesday.

Tadahito Iguchi had four hits for the third time in his career,
extending his hitting streak to eight games, and A.J. Pierzynski
had three hits and two RBI as the White Sox won for the seventh
time in nine games.

Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez (1-2) allowed six runs on nine
hits in 4 2-3 innings, hitting trouble right from the start.

"Today my command was a little off," he said. "My breaking
ball was a little up."

The White Sox scored a run in the first when Scott Podsednik led
off with a double down the right-field line and came around on
Iguchi's single.

Anderson, mired in a 1-for-22 skid his previous 10 games and
batting just .141, hit the first pitch of the third inning out to
left to make it 2-0. Ross Gload added a sacrifice fly in the
fourth.

After singles by Anderson and Iguchi in the fifth, Thome blew
open the game when he connected on a 1-1 pitch with one out. It was
his 13th homer of the season and 443rd of his career, putting him
in sole possession of 31st place on the career list, ahead of Dave
Kingman.

That was plenty for Vazquez, who pitched eight scoreless innings
against Kansas City on April 19. He left this start after Esteban
German's RBI single in the eighth.

Acquired in a trade with Arizona in December, he is looking like
the pitcher who made the All-Star team for the Yankees in 2004 --
not the guy who struggled for the last 1½ seasons.

Actually, Vazquez said he hasn't felt this comfortable since he
went 9-2 with a 1.60 ERA in the second half of the 2001 season with
Montreal. He finished that season with a career-high 16 wins.

After allowing a career-high 35 home runs last year, Vazquez has
given up just one so far. He went three starts without allowing an
extra-base hit, before Berroa's double.

The difference? Vazquez said it's the two-seam fastball. The
ball stays down -- and in the park.

"When I'm up in the zone, I get hurt a lot," he said. "With a
two-seamer, the action goes down."

The fifth starter in what is arguably baseball's best rotation,
Vazquez lowered his ERA to 2.88. Not bad considering it was 4.91
with the Yankees and 4.42 with the Diamondbacks.

"We've known Javy for a long time," said manager Ozzie
Guillen, who coached in Montreal. "I think (general manager Ken
Williams) loves him. And I love him too."

But they weren't sure how Vazquez felt about returning to the
American League.

"I always said that I liked the National League because I spent
all my years there," Vazquez said. "When you feel good about
yourself, where your stuff is and where your mechanics are, the
league doesn't really matter."

Game notes
2B Iguchi's last four-hit game was Sept. 24 against
Minnesota. ... White Sox RF Jermaine Dye was out of the lineup for
the fourth straight game with a tight left calf, and Gload made his
fourth straight start. ... Royals OF Reggie Sanders was out of the
lineup for the second straight game with a tight left hamstring.
"Reggie said today that he was feeling a little bit better,"
manager Buddy Bell said. "He's still going to be a few days." ...
RHP Denny Bautista, on the 15-day DL with a sore right pectoral
muscle, will start Monday's game against Cleveland, Bell said. He
replaces Joe Mays, whom the Royals asked to accept a demotion to
Triple-A Omaha on Friday. ... OF David DeJesus, on the 15-day DL
since April 19 with a strained left hamstring, had a setback while
running on Friday. "(He) tweaked the other hamstring or had a
cramp, and he had to shut down his running," Bell said.