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Devil Rays Can't Hold On To Win

CHICAGO (AP) -- Jose Contreras' first victory as a starter in more than two months came courtesy of an unexpected power outburst from his White Sox teammates.

With Chicago trailing Tampa Bay 4-0 headed into the bottom of the seventh Monday, A.J. Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye and Juan Uribe hit consecutive homers off Edwin Jackson, who'd sailed through the first six innings.

Four batters later, rookie Josh Fields delivered Chicago's fourth homer of the inning, a two-run go-ahead shot off reliever Dan Wheeler and Contreras had been bailed out.

"It didn't cross my mind. It was an incredible response by the team offensively with four homers in one inning," Contreras said after Chicago's 5-4 victory. "I won the game. I'm happy about that."

Contreras (7-16), who leads the major leagues in losses, had dropped nine straight starts since beating Florida on June 18 and had lost 13 of 14. His lone victory since beating the Marlins was in relief against Cleveland on Aug. 8.

Contreras allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings, improving to 5-0 in his career against Tampa Bay. Bobby Jenks pitched the ninth for his 36th save in 41 chances.

The victory was just the third in 16 games for the White Sox, who were swept in four games by Boston last weekend and outscored 46-7.

"It feels great that I won a game, but it feels better that I helped the team win a game," said Contreras, who was Chicago's second-half ace when they won the World Series just two years ago.

In a span of nine pitches, the White Sox homered three times off Jackson to start the seventh. It was first time three White Sox batters homered consecutively since Tadahito Iguchi, Aaron Rowand and Paul Konerko connected against the Yankees' Randy Johnson on Aug. 21, 2005.

"That guy had been pitching pretty well. For that to happen is surprising. It seemed like we were totally dead and then out of nowhere we came to life," said Pierzynski, whose frustrations surfaced Sunday when he and hitting coach Greg Walker got into a shouting match in the dugout.

After the three homers, Danny Richar doubled to finish Jackson and, one out later, advanced on Dan Wheeler's wild pitch. Wheeler (0-2) fanned Jerry Owens for the second out, but Fields lined his 17th homer to put Chicago ahead.

"They got three hits, hit three home runs. What more can you say?" Jackson said. "They just hit the ball out of the park."

Chicago White Sox second baseman Danny Richar watches his double in the seventh inning of a baseball game with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, in Chicago. The Sox won 5-4.
AP - Aug 27, 5:52 pm EDT
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Fields, playing third base in place of the injured Joe Crede, has been moved to left field where he is expected to be the starter next season when Crede returns at third.

Fields leads all AL rookies with 17 homers in just 74 games.

The soft-spoken former Oklahoma State football quarterback won't label himself a home run hitter.

"I wouldn't consider myself one yet. Right now a lot of guys come up their rookie years and hit a lot of home runs and then the next year guys figure out how to pitch them," Fields said. "We'll see how the rest of my career goes and I'll be able to answer that down the road."

Tampa Bay's Delmon Young hit his 10th homer after a leadoff walk to B.J. Upton in the second. The Devil Rays tacked on a run in the fifth on Akinori Iwamura's sacrifice fly, and Upton hit an RBI single in the sixth.

"It just happened so quickly. They got three back-to-back-to-back. It's unusual. One of those quirky things that happened to us," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "You got to win that game. You cannot allow that game to get away."

Notes

The game was a makeup of a May 26 rainout and was played before thousands of empty seats at U.S. Cellular Field. Announced attendance was 37,030. Entering the game, the Devil Rays and White Sox had the two worst records in the majors. ... Tampa Bay's three-game winning streak was stopped. ... Young's homer was his first since June 22, a stretch encompassing 231 at-bats. ... Jenks, who earlier this season tied a major league record by retiring 41 straight batters, has set down 50 of the last 51.


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