Rangers 7, White Sox 5(10)

3-11-08 -- Gavin Floyd returned to the mound Tuesday and tossed four solid innings for the Chicago White Sox during a 7-5 loss to the Texas Rangers in 10 innings.

Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer with two outs in the 10th off Matt Anderson. Cruz also had an RBI on a groundout in a three-run eighth that tied the score at 5.

Floyd, penciled in as the team's No. 5 starter, hadn't pitched since March 1 because of the flu. He gave up two runs and three hits, including solo home runs to Josh Hamilton and Ben Broussard in the second. Hamilton went 3-for-3 and is hitting .522 with two homers and a Cactus League-leading 11 RBIs.

"I was really weak when I was sick," Floyd said. "My body ached and I couldn't really do much. The past few days I've felt pretty good expect for the throat. I've worked all offseason to try to build up to spring training and my strength was still there.

"You don't plan on getting sick. Those days off kind of threw me off course a little bit, but I was happy to go out there and get that rhythm and attack the hitters," he added. "I don't think I skipped a beat. I feel real good and I'll just keep on building."

Though Floyd might have a spot in the rotation, he isn't taking it for granted.

"I felt there was an urgency for myself just to get back," he said. "I don't want to miss too much time. It's a confidence builder. It's not guaranteed. I treat it like any other spring training, try to battle for a spot."

Floyd had a 7.07 ERA in his first four starts last season and a 3.41 mark in his final six starts.

"We thought he was going to be a little weaker," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He went through a tough week with the flu. He came out and pitched strong. This kid could turn around and be a heck of a pitcher. It's up to him to grab it, keep it going and keep doing what he's doing now. He needs to maintain the confidence about pitching at the big league level."

White Sox center fielder and leadoff batter Jerry Owens, who had not played since March 4 because of a groin injury, also returned and went 1-for-3.

"I think it's behind me physically, but it's the mental part that we're trying to get over now," Owens said. "When I have to react to the ball off the bat, there were a couple of balls I was able to get to. I didn't think about it. I made the play, and threw the ball in and then I'm thinking, maybe it's a little sore. That helps me to know the strength is there, the flexibility is there. It's a matter of forgetting about it and playing."

While the White Sox are getting players back, the Rangers keep losing starting pitchers. Vicente Padilla left after 3 2-3 innings with a pulled muscle in his backside, although it is not considered serious.

Right-hander Kevin Millwood, scheduled to start the March 31 opener, has yet to appear in a spring training game because of a right hamstring injury. Brandon McCarthy, another Texas starter, is out four to eight weeks with a forearm strain.

Padilla gave up a two-run homer to Brian Anderson in the second.


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