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Wakefield, Red Sox get knocked around

CHICAGO -- Momentum, Terry Francona likes to say, is the following night's starting pitcher. And so, a night after Manny Ramirez drove a stake through the hearts of Joe Crede and the 36,784 gathered at U.S. Cellular Field with his ninth-inning, game-deciding homer, Jon Garland didn't look any less imposing.

The 25-year-old Chicago righthander, who became the majors' first 15-game winner (15-4, 3.19 ERA), held the Red Sox to two runs in 6 2/3 innings in an 8-4 Chicago win, outdueling Tim Wakefield, who served up three home runs -- that's eight homers allowed in his last three starts -- and couldn't make his way out of a torturous sixth inning.

It was 1-1 entering the sixth, with the Red Sox in prime position to beat Garland, a night after halting American League All-Star Game starter Mark Buehrle's streak of pitching seven innings or more in 25 straight starts. Wakefield had allowed only a run in his first two trips through the Chicago lineup (a solo homer in the fourth by Aaron Rowand) before the sixth.

Wakefield (8-9, 4.42 ERA) retired leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik on a ground out, allowed a Rowand single, popped up Carl Everett, and was on the precipice of escaping. Paul Konerko then blooped a single to right, giving the White Sox two on with two outs.

Right about that time, this went through Francona's mind; ''We're in a 1-1 game, Wake looks terrific." But A.J. Pierzynski began fouling off pitches, extended the at-bat to a 12th pitch, and got one to his liking.

''Down and in to a lefthander is probably a sweet spot," Wakefield said. ''His timing was there after so many of the same pitch."

Pierzynski's 382-foot homer into the seats in right propelled the White Sox to a 4-1 lead. Crede then singled to left, Timo Perez singled up the middle, and Juan Uribe, with one potent swing, knocked the ball over the wall in left and Wakefield out of the game.

White Sox 7, Red Sox 1.

''Before you know it they've spread it out," Francona said. ''I think they've done that a few times this year. It got away in a hurry."

The Sox mounted little offense until the ninth, when Rule 5 outfielder Adam Stern, who entered for Johnny Damon (rest purposes) in the seventh, homered to right with Tony Graffanino aboard, his first major league home run.

''I almost passed Graff coming around first," Stern said. ''I don't hit too many of them. The adrenaline took over. I was sprinting like it was a double."

Stern's parents attended each game of the last homestand, and saw him collect his first major league hit, against the Yankees. They had planned to come here as well, but the 25-year-old Stern -- sensing the need to revert to his usual routine, sans parents -- gave them permission to head home to London, Ontario.

''Maybe that's what needed to happen," he said, clearly joking.

His two-run shot closed the deficit to 8-4. The Sox had scored on Kevin Millar's RBI single in the fourth and Damon's solo homer with one out in the seventh.

Damon's homer aside, the top four members of the Sox lineup -- Damon, Edgar Renteria, David Ortiz, and Ramirez -- were a combined 1 for 14 with three walks (two by Ramirez). That was a surprising development, given that, before last night, those four hitters were a combined 18 for 38 (.474) against Garland.

''I understand we had some good history," Francona said. ''But he's a little different pitcher than he's been."

Garland pitched his way out of three innings in which the Red Sox put the leadoff man on but failed to score.

The second: Ramirez walked but was erased when Trot Nixon grounded into a double play.

The third: Doug Mirabelli singled but never left first base. Bill Mueller flied to left, Graffanino struck out looking, and Damon fanned swinging.

The fifth: Mueller and Graffanino hit consecutive singles, but neither advanced. With two aboard, Damon popped to first base, Renteria popped to first in foul territory, and Ortiz flied to deep center.

''He was so aggressive in," Francona said of Garland's performance, referring specifically to the fifth. ''It's easy to tell a kid to do it, but to do it against our hitters, Damon and Renteria, back to back. He came in and came in hard."

Wakefield meanwhie, fell to 1-3 with a 6.07 ERA (29 2/3 IP, 20 ER) in his last four starts and has coughed up six home runs in his last two outings -- the other a 5-3 loss to the Yankees Sunday night.

''The last two games the hits he's given up have been extra-base hits, and it's cost him and us lots of runs," Francona said. ''I think he's fine. I think he knows he's fine. He's been through some stretches where he just needed a pat on the back. But I think he feels pretty good about himself now. And I think justifiably so."

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