Four games ahead of the pack in the

By Tom Withers Associated Press Published:

Four games ahead of the pack in the AL Central.

It's been a tough climb back to the top, but the White Sox own a four-game lead in the division once known as the Comedy Central for the first time since May 28, 1994.

"The last couple of years we battled, we got close, but I don't think we knew how to win," said White Sox manager Jerry Manuel. "We'd get the tying run on and didn't know how to score it. We now have a sense of how to win."

Ray Durham homered in the top of the 10th and Chicago survived a scary bottom half Tuesday, holding on for a 4-3 win over the reeling Cleveland Indians.

By winning the first two games of the key series, 11 of 13 overall and 20 of 28, the White Sox have shown that they intend to be around late into the season.

"Now the game itself is more important than individual numbers," Manuel said. "The focus is on winning."

And the focus is on the White Sox, who are 4-1 vs. the Indians this season.

It's been a long time since anyone in Cleveland can remember not seeing the Indians in first place.

"Right now, they have the advantage," Omar Vizquel said. "We are the ones chasing them. It's about time we open our eyes and look in the mirror. We have to play a little better. A lot of people are in a bad mood, including me. It's hard to smile right now."

With one out in the 10th, Durham hit a 1-0 pitch from Justin Speier (0-1) 419 feet to dead center for his 11th homer and third in three games. On Sunday, Speier gave up a three-run homer to Ken Griffey Jr. as the Reds rallied to beat the Indians.

"I was looking for a pitch I could drive and I got one," said Durham, batting .437 in his last nine games. "Then I was hoping I wouldn't miss it."

Bill Simas (1-1) got two outs for the win and Bob Howry got three outs for his second save.

An error by Durham helped the Indians, who stranded 10 runners, put the tying run at second in the 10th. But Howry got pinch-hitter Russell Branyan to hit into a game-ending double play.

Branyan homered off Howry in Monday's opener.

"These ninth innings are killing me," said Durham, who actually meant the 10th inning as he rubbed his head. "They're giving me gray hairs and I don't have any hair."

It was the second straight night the Indians hit into a game-ending double play with the potential winning run on. Cleveland is 0-for-10 with runners at third and less than two outs in three games.

"I don't know if we're trying too hard or pressing or what," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "But we're having a tough time knocking guys in. Sometimes we have guys at third with nobody out, the infield playing back and we still can't get the run in. I don't know what it is."

If not for the umpires ruling that Magglio Ordonez's drive to left in the fourth was a double and not a homer as TV replays showed, the White Sox wouldn't have had to sweat this one out.

"It shouldn't have been close," starter Jim Parque said. "But the bottom line is that we won."

Indians starter Bartolo Colon gave up three runs and seven hits in eight innings. Averaging 12 strikeouts per nine innings, Colon fanned just one.

Notes: The White Sox have homered in a franchise record 17 straight games. ... Chicago has won six straight series for the first time since 1994. ... Sox manager Jerry Manuel didn't want any part of the Sammy Sosa trade rumors. "No thanks," he said. "That's the other side of town." ... Thomas recently opened his batting stance and looks a lot like Atlanta's Andres Galarraga at the plate. Since the change, Thomas is batting .311 (19-for-61) with eight homers and 20 RBI in 18 games. ... The Indians agreed to terms with three of their first five picks in last week's draft, including No. 1 selection (26th overall) Corey Smith, a third baseman from Piscataway, N.J.

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