Sports

By Rick Gano Associated Press Published:

"We can win 20 in a row," Lofton said after the Indians won their second straight over the team they trail, the Chicago White Sox.

"We've got three months to go and you don't worry about things this early," he added.

Lofton tripled, doubled and singled Wednesday night, and Jim Thome hit two monster homers _ giving him 20 for the seventh straight season _ as the Indians beat the White Sox 8-6.

Chicago, which had won eight straight before the two losses, still leads by 6 1/2 games.

"A tough loss, they banged on us early," said Chicago's Frank Thomas, who also homered twice. "When you have a long winning streak, it's easy to drop a couple quickly. Now we have to get it back on track."

White Sox ace James Baldwin (10-2), whose other loss was May 26 to the Yankees, was pounded for six runs and eight hits in four-plus innings, his shortest outing of the season.

"We have to realize he's human and prone to a bad outing," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said.

Alex Ramirez also homered for Cleveland, and Paul Konerko for the White Sox. Konerko was 4-for-5.

The White Sox had several chances in the final four innings to tie, stranding seven base runners from the sixth inning on.

Dave Burba (8-2), who has won five of six decisions, allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"I think it's important to come back and get some wins and close the gap. It gives you a boost and lets everybody in the clubhouse know you are still fighting," Burba said. "Our attitude is that we're not out of it by any means."

Lofton led off the game with a triple, Omar Vizquel doubled, Roberto Alomar sacrificed and Thome hit a long homer to right-center.

Chicago closed to 3-2 in the bottom half on RBI singles by Magglio Ordonez and Konerko, but Ramirez homered in the second and Cleveland made it 7-2 in the fifth.

Sandy Alomar tripled and scored on Lofton's single, and Vizquel singled off first-base umpire Brian Runge, sending Lofton to third and finishing Baldwin.

After Vizquel was picked off by Kevin Beirne, Roberto Alomar hit a sacrifice fly and Thome followed with another long drive to right center, the 12th multihomer game of his career.

"We still got a lot of ground to make up and, hopefully, we can do that," Thome said.

"I don't think we can get ahead of ourselves and jump out and say we're back to where we're at because we're not."

Steve Karsay got five outs for his 16th save in 19 chances.

Notes: With at least 20 homers in seven straight seasons, Thome tied the club record set by Larry Doby from 1949-55. Thome has 216 homers, tied with Hal Trosky for third on the Indians career list. ... With David Justice and Manny Ramirez out with injuries, Thome was batting fourth for just the ninth time this season. ... Baldwin was bidding to become just the third White Sox pitcher to start a season 11-1. Reliever Barry Jones was 11-1 in 1990 and starter Eddie Cicotte 12-1 in 1919. ... Vizquel equaled his career-best 70-game streak without an error. ... The White Sox reached 100 homers in 71 games, the fastest they've reached that mark in club history.

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