Despite ejections, Sox take series finale

Despite ejections, Sox take series finale

CLEVELAND -- At least Mark Buehrle's meltdown didn't show up on the scoreboard.

First-base umpire Joe West ejected Buehrle in the third inning when Buehrle threw his glove after his second balk, but an inning later, the White Sox teed off against Jake Westbrook, setting up a 5-4 win Wednesday at Progressive Field.

West also ejected Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen in the second inning after Guillen went out to talk to him after Buehrle's first balk. Guillen said he did not go to argue the call, but to protect Buehrle.

"I did not go out to ask him about the balk or whatever," Guillen said. "Anytime you go out, you can't ask about the balk. The thing is, I went out to ask him why he was embarrassing Buehrle."

Buehrle's glove came off his hand when he shrugged his shoulders after the second balk. Buehrle headed for the clubhouse, but later, he joked about his offensive contribution.

The White Sox responded to Buehrle's ouster with a three-run fourth inning off Westbrook, and Mark Kotsay's two-run homer in the sixth padded the lead.

"I don't think we'd have come out and scored five runs like that if I didn't get tossed, so I take credit for the offense," said Buehrle in jest.

Tony Pena (1-1) pitched a career-high four scoreless innings, shutting down the Indians and giving the White Sox a key victory. With Wednesday's win, Chicago won consecutive series for the first time this season.

But Bobby Jenks came dangerously close to blowing Pena's career outing, letting the Indians put up three runs before finally closing the game out.

"I think this game's big for us," Guillen said. "The way it started, Buehrle kicked out of the game, I'm kicked out of the game. The players stepped it up and played good baseball."

Things could have gone much differently for Chicago with Buehrle's ejection. Buehrle had recorded just seven outs when West sent him packing. He allowed three hits and had a strikeout to go along with his two balks.

"Pena did a tremendous job out of the bullpen," Guillen said. "He was great. ... Last couple of outings out there, Pena's saving our bullpen. He's very good for us."

Randy Williams came out and finished the third inning for Buehrle, and when the White Sox came up in the fourth, they were ready for Westbrook.

Juan Pierre started off with a double, and two batters later, Westbrook walked Alex Rios. Paul Konerko's base hit brought home Pierre, and after Konerko advanced to second base on Austin Kearns' throwing error, Westbrook walked Mark Kotsay intentionally to load the bases.

Stepping to the plate with one out and the bases juiced, Carlos Quentin struck out, missing the chance to break out of his recent slump, but Mark Teahen didn't repeat the mistake.

Teahen knocked a two-run single to left-center field, giving the bullpen some runs to work with on a day when it was called out much earlier than expected.

Kotsay's two-run homer stretched out the lead even more, easing some of the pressure on Pena. Westbrook threw seven innings and was tagged for five runs on six hits and two walks. He punched out just two White Sox hitters.

Before the game, Guillen expressed concern about the rotation not eating up innings, but Buehrle's early exit Wednesday was not the kind of thing Guillen had in mind.

"Our starting pitchers aren't doing right now what we thought they would do," Guillen said. "That's why you see a lot of innings piling up in the bullpen."

Guillen needed six innings from his bullpen to get through the first two games of the Indians series on the heels of Sunday's 13-0 loss to the Marlins, when Chicago's relief corps combined for 6 2/3 innings.

Pena -- who, like Williams, last pitched Sunday -- proved to be the real value play out of the bullpen. Pena kept the Indians off the board, walking one and scattering two hits over his four frames of work while striking out three.

The only run that Pena allowed to cross the plate was an inherited runner from Williams in the fourth inning. Pena allowed Kearns to score on Jhonny Peralta's sacrifice fly, but quickly got two more outs to end the threat.

Pena stayed in control the rest of the way, letting just one runner reach second base, before handing the game over to Matt Thornton. Thornton retired the side in the eighth inning, handing the ball to Jenks for the ninth.

Peralta led off the ninth with a double, and Matt LaPorta drew a walk. When Luis Valbuena's single loaded the bases, the Indians sent designated hitter Travis Hafner to pinch-hit for Lou Marson.

Jenks walked Hafner, scoring Peralta. After Hafner, pinch-hitter Shelley Duncan's two-run single pulled the Indians within a run with the top of Cleveland's order coming up.

Crowe put the runners in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and Jenks walked Choo intentionally to load the bases for Kearns.

Kearns struck out and with two outs, Branyan came to the box. Jenks bent as far as he could without breaking, getting Branyan to fly out to left field.

Jenks almost blew the game, but almost blowing the game doesn't count.

"I didn't do a nice job," he said."I did a just-good-enough job."

Stephen Ellsesser is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.