On perfect anniversary, Buehrle throws complete gem

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On perfect anniversary, Buehrle throws complete gem

Saturday, July 24, 2010
Updated 12:45 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

OAKLAND Its a stretch of the schedule Chicago needs to fatten up on, and with wins in three of the first four, the White Sox are starting to look a little chubby in the win column.

Mark Buehrle celebrated the one-year anniversary of his perfect game with another masterful effort, defeating the As 5-1 in front of a sparse Friday night crowd in Oakland.

Everything was down in the zone, sinkers were working, Buehrle said. When things are working like that. You get ahead in the count. They were swinging early, and I dont know if that was their game plan, but when they were swinging early, the ball was down and they were hitting ground balls.

Mark pitched good, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He made those guys swing the bat, and we played good defense behind him.

Buehrle took just 101 pitches to compose a complete game that was scarred by just four hits and one earned run. It was the third time in Buehrles career hes thrown back-to-back complete games, also having achieved the feat in 2001 and 2004, as well as his first career win in Oakland.

I expected a beer shower when the game was over, Buehrle said of his first Oakland win in his 11 seasons.

The first three White Sox runs were driven in without the courtesy of a hit, as in the third Carlos Quentin drove a deep sacrifice fly to bring home Alex Rios, and in the sixth Juan Pierre scored on an Rios grounder played into an error by As shortstop Cliff Pennington and Omar Vizquel came home when Quentin tapped out to As pitcher Trevor Cahill.

A.J. Pierzynski provided more traditional run support in the top of the ninth, tapping out a two-run single to extend the White Sox lead to 5-1.

As the top of the ninth was an extended frame, it worried Guillen. But because his thinking was that the skipper could steal a complete game and gift his pen with another days rest, I talked to Mark after the long ninth inning, and he was fine to come back.

In the end, the White Sox extended their first-place lead to 2.5 games over the rained-out Detroit Tigers and three over the Minnesota Twins, who lost to the Baltimore Orioles. Little of that matters to the Sox jefe, however.

Dont worry about what you did yesterday, Guillen said of his teams second strong bounce-back this week. Its a new game. We dont take anything for granted. If you have a good game or a bad game today, it doesnt mean anything tomorrow. Were very good about believing in that.

Buehrle, as he usually does, succeeded in not just delivering a win, but restoring some cheer to the team.

This was one of those games that was fun, he said. Balls werent finding holes and I was making pitches and getting ahead in the count. As a starter youre going to have a certain amount of good ones and bad ones throughout the year, and I had all my bad ones at the start of the year. Im due to go on a little streak of good ones. The whole starting staff is on a good roll; lets keep it going.

And then, in a nod to how much fun it is to pitch when the team performs as well as it has for nearly two months now, Buehrle offered up a tantalizer sure to fire up Sox fans of all ilks.

If I keep pitching like this, I might not be able to retire.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

The White Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (16-9, 3.19 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (1-1, 6.16 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields’ time with the White Sox has not gone well. But Monday night was one of the bright spots, and it came against his former team.

Shields allowed just one run in his six innings of work against the visiting Tampa Ray Bays — with whom he spent the first seven seasons of his career — and earned his first win since July 26 as the White Sox opened this four-game set with a 7-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

Shields didn’t exactly keep the Rays off the bases Monday, running into jams with multiple base runners on in four of his six innings. But he did keep them off the scoreboard, for the most part, getting some help from his defense with a couple double plays. He finished allowing just one run on seven hits with six strikeouts over his six innings.

The win was his first in two months after a brutal August — six starts with four losses and an 11.42 ERA — and a couple of rough outings in September. It was Shields’ sixth victory on the season and fourth since joining the White Sox compared to 18 losses on the season, 11 coming with the White Sox.

“I had a few chances my last few starts to get some wins, but sometimes those things happen,” Shields said. “I’m just trying to finish the season strong right now. Body feels good, arm feels good, so hopefully I can get another win on Saturday to end my season and move into next year.”

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With just one more start on his schedule in the season’s final week, Shields won’t lose a visually upsetting 20 games. Avoiding that number might not make losing 18 or 19 much easier for fans and observers to swallow, but teammates understand what Shields has gone through this season.

“I think we’ve all been through it once or maybe even twice in our career. He works his butt off, though,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He looks at film. He watches everything he’s doing. To come out with the strong outing today, even in the first inning, getting two runners on and getting out of that jam, it goes to show you his resilience. Whenever he got runners on, he looked relaxed and induced a lot of ground balls which we needed.”

Certainly Shields’ teammates picked him up Monday. The two double plays while he was in the game were just half the infield’s total on the night, two more coming in the seventh and eighth, when Tommy Kahnle and Nate Jones put the first two hitters they faced on in each frame. But the double plays helped end those threats and keep the Rays down.

The White Sox struck first with a run in the first inning, Melky Cabrera scoring on Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly. After the Rays tied it up in the fourth with an RBI single, the White Sox punched back, Frazier doubling, stealing third base and scoring on Omar Narvaez’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of that inning.

And as Shields and the relief corps danced out of jams, the White Sox added to their score. Jose Abreu singled in a run in the fifth, but it was a pair of two-run homers off the bats of Morneau and Carlos Sanchez in the seventh and eighth innings that provided the real insurance.

The win was the third straight for the White Sox, something that while positive won’t provide much solace in a season where competing for a playoff spot is a distant memory.

But, like Shields finishing his season strong, White Sox players in general can create individual momentum for each of their offseasons and into next year with good finishes to 2016.

“We want to end on a positive note,” Frazier said. “Everybody wants to meet their goals. Baseball is the most individualistic team sport there is. You have to have your individual goals just like your team goals, and our team goals are out the door right now. You don’t want to play for yourself, but at the same time play for your pitcher a little bit and help him out.”