Buehrle dominant as bats tear it open

Buehrle dominant as bats tear it open

CHICAGO - During Mark Buehrle's postgame interview Wednesday in front of his locker, Braden Buehrle, the pitcher's 11-month-old son, had a fair amount of success locking on to tape recorders and microphones put up by the surrounding reporters.

In fact, as his dad answered questions and held on to the happy little one, Braden had a greater rate of connection than Pittsburgh's hitters did against his father during the 8-2 White Sox victory before 28,570 at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox (40-31) improved to 6-2 in Interleague Play this season, and maintained their 4 1/2-game lead over the Twins in the American League Central.

More importantly, Buehrle (4-6) continued to look like the pitcher who entered Wednesday's contest with a 110-81 career record, as opposed to the southpaw who was victimized by the big inning in his early-season struggles. Buehrle allowed two earned runs on four hits over eight innings, marking his third straight start in which he has worked eight, netting him a 2-0 record with a 1.50 ERA in his last three trips to the mound.

Memories of his 2007 no-no briefly swept into Wednesday's game equation, as Buehrle retired the first 12 hitters he faced and held Pittsburgh (34-38) hitless through five innings. Jose Bautista's home run on the first pitch of the sixth ended Buehrle's second brush with history, but didn't slow him down.

"He was working both sides of the plate," said Bautista of Buehrle, who threw 63 of his 96 pitches for strikes. "He mixed in his cutter and his little sinker that he's got, and threw a lot of changeups early. He's a good pitcher and he was making quality pitches. That's not the first time I've seen that [from him]. That's what he's doing when he's going good."

"It was in my mind out there," added Buehrle of throwing a second no-hitter, settling instead for the 43rd time in his career in which he has retired 10 or more in a row in a game. "I was throwing the ball well. It was one of those games where I had some good stuff, everything was working for me. The only concern I did have was I was getting a lot of outs on fly balls. If I was throwing a lot of ground balls, I think I would have had a little better stuff."

"It was one of those games where I had some good stuff, everything was working for me."
-- Mark Buehrle

Offensive support has not exactly been prevalent behind Buehrle in 2008, with the White Sox averaging 4.26 runs per game in his previous 14 starts. There was plenty of backing with the bats on Wednesday against Tom Gorzelanny (5-6), who grew up in south suburban Evergreen Park, just 20 miles away from U.S. Cellular, and fulfilled a lifelong dream as a White Sox fan by pitching at the park.

Brian Anderson went deep for the third time this year, and Carlos Quentin's 17th home run ended a string of 37 at-bats without clearing the fences for the temporarily slumping All-Star candidate. That drought was nothing compared to the one experienced by backup catcher Toby Hall, who homered for his first time as a White Sox and for the first time since June 4, 2006. At that point, the Rays, Hall's then-employers, were still called the Devil Rays.

A healthy Hall has held a .316 average this season, and has readily admitted that he's not worried about power production through his limited playing time. But he still was satisfied with the 2-0 lead provided to Buehrle via his two-run blast to left in the second.

"I came close on some," Hall said. "It's nice to get in there and be healthy and be able to contribute."

"Everybody has to contribute -- everybody has a job to do," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen added. "Everybody has to chip in a little to be what we want to be. Toby swung the bat real well. It's not an easy job, what Brian and Toby and [Juan] Uribe do, coming from the bench and performing the way they perform."

Quentin and Orlando Cabrera led the 10-hit attack with two hits apiece, while Nick Swisher added two RBIs through a seventh-inning double. The White Sox raised their average to .298 in Interleague Play, and won for the 11th time in their last 13 games at home.

From the personal milestone department, Jim Thome's first-inning walk gave him 1,499 for his career, and tied him with Eddie Collins for 17th place on the all-time list. Buehrle just missed a significant achievement of his own, and it had nothing to do with the no-hitter.

Three strikeouts from Buehrle gave him 998 for his career, meaning his next start at Dodger Stadium should bring Buehrle to 1,000. John Buehrle, Mark's father, said after the game he would make the trip out West because of a promise to his son that he would be there for that momentous strikeout.

But the elder Buehrle better not take his eyes off the game early on against the Dodgers, not after his son completed Wednesday's victory in 2 hours, 17 minutes. It was vintage Buehrle, in a year when everything from injuries to ineffectiveness had been talked about more than excellence for the staff ace.

"You have to love when Buehrle pitches," Anderson said. "Even when he has a bad game, it seems like it goes quickly. The pace is awesome and he always keeps you on your toes on defense."

"Sometimes it just takes a little longer and maybe he wasn't ready right out of the gate," added Hall of Buehrle. "I'll take that anytime now, a couple of mulligans to get him back where he needs to be. He's doing great."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.