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Colon shuts down Royals despite late scare

CHICAGO (AP) -- A bad back was the only thing to spoil Bartolo
Colon's outing.

Colon scattered three hits over eight shutout innings before
back pain forced him out of Chicago's 4-3 victory over the Kansas
City Royals on Wednesday.

The Royals rallied for three runs in the ninth, but it wasn't
enough as the White Sox cut Kansas City's lead in the AL Central to
one game.

Roberto Alomar homered for the first time since he was traded to
the White Sox, and Carlos Lee homered and drove in another run.

"(Colon) did his job," said catcher Sandy Alomar, who also had
an RBI. "A guy that wins big games, a guy that wants the ball when
the game's on the line, that's Bartolo."

And no doubt about it, this was a big game. After sweeping the
Royals in Kansas City last week, the White Sox took two of three at
home. Chicago is a major league-best 15-5 since the All-Star break,
and has made up six games on Kansas City.

The teams won't meet again until September, when they'll play
seven of their last 10 games against each other.

"These games are meaningful, don't get me wrong," Royals first
baseman Ken Harvey said. "But they're not that much that we're
going to bang our heads."

No, but they might when they think of how dominating Colon
(10-9) was. He allowed his first two batters to reach base, hitting
Aaron Guiel with a pitch and walking Joe Randa. But he settled down
after that, retiring 11 straight before Harvey led off the fifth
with a single past a diving Joe Crede.

Colon rebounded quickly, getting the next nine outs. When he got
Raul Ibanez on a called strikeout to end the seventh, the crowd of
25,348 gave him a standing ovation as he walked back to the dugout.

"He was unbelievable," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "He was
untouchable for seven innings. My boys tried to do the best they
can."

But they had little luck until Colon's back tightened up. Colon
began feeling some twinges in the seventh inning, and started the
eighth by giving up back-to-back singles to Harvey and Desi
Relaford.

After Angel Berroa grounded into a double play, Sandy Alomar
asked Colon if he could finish the inning.

"I felt pretty good after the guy hit into the double play,"
Colon said. "I said, `I can go for one more.' And that's what I
did."

Dee Brown followed with a popup to end the inning. As the ball
arched high over Crede's head, Brown slammed his bat into the
ground, knowing the Royals had squandered their best chance to get
to Colon.

The right-hander struck out seven and walked one. He's 4-0 with
a 1.14 ERA in his last four starts.

"He is turning the corner for us," White Sox manager Jerry
Manuel said. "Now you can expect and anticipate good outings -- and
sometimes dominant outings -- every time he goes out there."

But the bullpen wasn't nearly as dominant. Tom Gordon gave up a
three-run homer to Carlos Beltran in the ninth to cut the lead to
4-3. Damaso Marte got the last two outs for his ninth save.

"It's a special atmosphere when you play the Royals because
they're in first place," Sandy Alomar said. "That's the team
you've got to beat."

The White Sox took the lead early, hitting back-to-back homers
off Kris Wilson (5-2) in the third inning. Wilson, making only his
second start since May, gave up five hits and two runs in five
innings, striking out three and walking three.

Roberto Alomar, once one of the AL's most feared hitters, hadn't
homered since the White Sox acquired him from the New York Mets on
July 1. But he ended that drought with the first pitch he saw from
Wilson, sending it into the Royals' bullpen.

It was Alomar's third homer of the year, and only his 14th since
the Cleveland Indians traded him to the Mets after the 2001 season.

"I had to get into the group," Roberto Alomar said.
"Everybody's been hitting home runs and I've only been hitting
singles. I had to get in the group. I was lonely."

White Sox fans had barely settled back into their seats when Lee
homered, this one to left on a full count. He added an RBI single
in the seventh, and Sandy Alomar drove in the insurance run in the
eighth.

Game notes
The White Sox have homered in 18 straight home games. ...
Though its lead is down to one game, Kansas City is in first place
after Aug. 1 for the first time since 1985. ... The White Sox drew
108,243 fans for the series against the Royals. Except for the
annual matchup against the Cubs, that's the largest turnout for a
three-game series since the White Sox hosted the Yankees in June
2000. That series drew 112,213. ... Wilson is 0-1 in 11 appearances
-- three starts -- against the White Sox.