Baltimore Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons had become so frustrated by his season about a month ago, he experimented with an open batting stance for several weeks. That seemed to allow Gibbons to see the ball better, but it also made him vulnerable to outside pitches.

"At times it worked well," he said. "Once [pitchers] figured out you couldn't go the other way, they exploited that."

So once again Gibbons closed his stance, though he did not return to his original stance, and hoped for better results. They finally came.

"This probably is a little different, something new," Gibbons said. "I'll ride it as long as I can."

Gibbons has started to get hot at the plate. His two hits on Sunday raised his average to .270. He has hit four home runs in the past seven games, and is now second on the team, behind shortstop Miguel Tejada, with 21 home runs.

"I've been working with my mechanics," Gibbons said. "They seem to be a little bit more sound."

In Search of Sosa

Manager Sam Perlozzo said he doesn't know when Sammy Sosa will return to the lineup because the team hasn't been able to reach the outfielder. Perlozzo said trainer Richie Bancells has left several messages for Sosa and none has been returned.

Sosa was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 28 -- retroactive to Aug. 26 -- with a lesion on his right big toe. He is eligible to come off the DL on Sept. 10.

"It's not a big deal," Perlozzo said about Sosa's lack of communication. "We're just checking in with him." . . .

After missing 53 games with a sprained left thumb, Geronimo Gil finally returned to the lineup. Gil, placed on the DL on July 3, started at catcher on Sunday for Baltimore.

"I was very anxious," Gil said. "The finger doesn't bother me. The swing is fine."

Gil sprained his thumb on a swing on June 4 but continued to play. He aggravated the injury on July 2 while catching.

"When I sprained the thumb I kept playing and that probably kept me out," Gil said. "If I had stopped playing at that time I probably would have come back quicker."

Gil was hitless in three at-bats, though he was robbed by Boston third baseman Bill Mueller, who made a diving catch of a line drive in the third. . . .

Eric DuBose has pitched 61/3 scoreless innings after his demotion to the bullpen last week.