The Chicago White Sox might have been better off staying on the road.
Following a 7-0 road trip against Cleveland and the New York Yankees, Chicago won the opener of a four-game series against the Indians at home, then lost two straight, including 8-6 Wednesday night.
The White Sox have an 11-game road winning streak, longest in the majors this season, and built a season-high 8 1/2-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central before losing the last two. The four-game series concludes Thursday night.
''A tough loss, they banged on us early,'' said Chicago's Frank Thomas, who homered twice and singled twice in five at-bats. ''When you have a long winning streak, it's easy to drop a couple quickly. Now we have to get it back on track.''
In other AL games, it was Boston 9, New York 7; Toronto 6, Detroit 0; Texas 7, Minnesota 5; Anaheim 3, Kansas City 1; Oakland 10, Baltimore 3; and Seattle 8, Tampa Bay 5.
Kenny Lofton tripled, doubled and singled for the Indians, and Jim Thome hit two long homers, giving him 20 for the seventh straight season.
''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.''
The Indians have won the AL Central all five years of its existence.
''I don't worry about making up ground. We can win 20 in a row,'' Lofton said. ''We've got three months to go and you don't worry about things this early.''
Dave Burba (8-2), who has won five of six decisions, allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. Steve Karsay got five outs for his 16th save in 19 chances.
''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.''
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.
It was a wild night for a few of the National League's top relievers.
Atlanta's John Rocker, Cincinnati's Scott Williamson and New York's John Franco all struggled with their control Wednesday night.
And all three cost their teams opportunities for wins.
Rocker, who has struggled with his control since returning from a suspension for making disparaging comments in a Sports Illustrated story, sprinted in from the bullpen to the cheers of the home crowd of 44,698 in the ninth.
But he left to jeers after throwing 20 balls and just 10 strikes. Rocker allowed five runs, four walks and a hit batter, his ERA swelling to 5.85 in the Braves' 8-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
''He didn't throw well at all. The game got out of hand,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ''It all boils down to getting the ball over the plate.''
At Cincinnati, Denny Neagle turned a 4-3 lead over to the bullpen, but was victimized by a blown save for the third time this season as the Reds lost to the Colorado Rockies 6-4.
Williamson (2-4) walked Jeff Cirillo opening the eighth, threw his NL-leading 13th wild pitch and walked Brent Mayne with two outs. Neifi Perez singled to tie it and Bragg singled sharply up the middle.
Ken Griffey Jr. dropped the ball as he tried to field it for a play at the plate. He then threw wildly to third for an error that sent Perez home.
''We've had that happen four or five times in the last 10 or 12 losses,'' Reds manager Jack McKeon said. ''We've had a lot of games this year where we've had a lead and just couldn't hold it.''
At New York, Franco walked Kevin Jordan with the bases loaded in the ninth to allow the go-ahead run to score in the Philadelphia Phillies' 10-5 victory over the New York Mets.
Franco allowed four runs, two hits and walked two in one-third of an inning.
''I'm kind of disgusted with myself,'' Franco said. ''I made the pitch I wanted to throw. I just didn't get away with it.''
In other NL games, Florida edged Milwaukee 5-4; Pittsburgh defeated Montreal 8-3; San Francisco beat St. Louis 4-1; Los Angeles edged Houston 7-6; and Arizona defeated San Diego 11-8.
Cubs 8, Braves 1
Rocker retired Augie Ojeda, then walked pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr. and Eric Young on 3-2 pitches and allowed an RBI single to Damon Buford that made it 4-1.
Sammy Sosa was intentionally walked, and Rocker forced in two runs by walking Mark Grace and hitting Brant Brown with a pitch.
Rocker was removed, and Jeff Reed hit a two-run single off Don Wengert.
''Right now, he's lost out on the mound,'' said Cubs manager Don Baylor, who was with the Braves last year as hitting coach when Rocker had 38 saves.
Kerry Wood, the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year who had surgery last spring to replace a torn ligament in his right elbow, mixed a fastball in the mid-90s with a sharp breaking ball to win for the first time since May 28.
Wood (3-4) beat Tom Glavine (7-4) by allowing just four hits in seven innings. Glavine hasn't won since May 21, going 0-3 with three no-decisions. He lost at Turner Field for the first time since last July 6 after going 10-0 in 17 home starts.
Rockies 6, Reds 4
Colorado got its eighth victory in 11 games by taking advantage of the Williamson's wildness. The Reds have lost 12 of 14.
Julian Tavarez (5-2) pitched one perfect inning of relief for the win. Gabe White pitched a scoreless inning to stretch his streak to 20 2-3 innings, one shy of the franchise record.
Phillies 10, Mets 5
After getting the go-ahead run against Franco (2-3), Pat Burrell hit his first career grand slam, his second key ninth-inning homer off Armando Benitez in as many nights, to lead Philadelphia over New York.
Burrell also homered in the sixth inning for the rookie's first career multihomer game.
The last-place Phillies have won seven of eight against the Mets, dating to last season. They have also won five of six during the past week against New York and Atlanta.
Marlins 5, Brewers 4
Mark Kotsay hit a grand slam in the seventh inning off Jimmy Haynes (7-6) to help Florida rally past visiting Milwaukee.
Kotsay was 4-for-4 with three singles and his second career grand slam for the Marlins, who have won five of six.
Pirates 8, Expos 3
John Vander Wal homered twice, including a grand slam, in Pittsburgh's seven-run third inning at Montreal.
Francisco Cordova (5-5) allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings as the Pirates won their second straight following a four-game losing streak.
Giants 4, Cardinals 1
Kirk Rueter outdueled Garrett Stephenson, and Doug Mirabelli's home run snapped an eighth-inning tie as San Francisco beat St. Louis.
Rueter (5-4) raised his record at Busch Stadium to 5-0 with a 2.06 ERA in seven career starts. Stephenson (9-3) lost for the first time to an NL team.
Dodgers 7, Astros 6
Gary Sheffield hit two homers, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the eighth inning off Jose Cabrera (0-2), to lead Los Angeles at Houston.
Matt Herges (5-0) pitched three hitless inning to win for the second straight night.
Diamondbacks 11, Padres 8
Travis Lee was 3-for-4 with three RBIs as Arizona's slumbering offense awoke at home with 14 hits and nine walks off five San Diego pitchers.
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