Buehrle answers challenge with zeroes

Buehrle answers challenge with zeroes

CHICAGO -- This is what White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wanted when he told his starting pitchers to step it up.

One day removed from Javier Vazquez's best start of the season, in which he threw eight shutout innings and struck out 10 batters, Mark Buehrle took his turn.

The veteran southpaw led the White Sox to a 4-0 victory at U.S. Cellular Field, the second consecutive shutout over the Royals.

It was the first time the White Sox recorded back-to-back shutouts since April 12-13 against Detroit.

Buehrle cruised through the Royals' lineup in his typical fashion, moving quickly and forcing ground ball after ground ball. He also struck out five and issued no free passes.

And he did it all without his best stuff.

"I was doing the rain dance in the first inning, hoping the rain would come," Buehrle said with a laugh. "I felt that bad in the bullpen, but obviously I had the results. And I'll take those results every time. Against Boston, everything was working for me and I had great, great stuff. And today was one of those days that I hope I don't feel like this too often."

Buehrle's less-than-stellar stuff earned him his 10th win of the season. He retired the last 12 batters he faced, the 45th time in his career that he has set down 10 or more in a row.

The win keeps the White Sox one-half game ahead of Minnesota, which defeated New York, 4-2, on Wednesday afternoon.

The victory was also revenge for Buehrle, who got lit up the last time he faced Kansas City back on Aug. 2. He surrendered 14 hits and eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, but said he felt better that time around.

"You gotta throw them out and you're not gonna get anywhere by thinking about your last start or what happened last time against these guys," Buehrle said.

"Great performance," Guillen added. "Especially to bounce back against a team that just beat him. It was nice to see him come back and get, I don't want to say revenge, but it's nice to see him go out and do what he did."

A.J. Pierzynski was impressed with Buehrle's effort, as well, particularly in light of how the White Sox have fared against Kansas City of late.

"These guys have really hit us this year and we've really battled against them," Pierzynski said. "To come out and dominate the first two games is definitely nice and definitely a step in the right direction."

Pierzynski didn't have a very good night at the plate from a statistical standpoint, but he was extremely productive.

The White Sox tacked on two runs in the first inning off of Royals starter Luke Hochevar. Orlando Cabrera led off with a single and Pierzynski put down a bunt to get the runner to third.

Cabrera scored on a double by Jermaine Dye, who in turn scored on a single by Ken Griffey Jr. It was Griffey's first RBI since his debut with the White Sox on Aug. 1.

"It's hard when you make a trade, all of a sudden you've got to help this team," Guillen said of Griffey. "You put a lot of pressure on yourself. I think Junior's swinging the bat better the last couple of days. Hopefully, little by little he'll get there. He's fine. I asked him if he could play tomorrow and I got a great answer. He said he's available."

The White Sox tacked on additional runs in the fifth and eighth innings, the first of which Pierzynski drove in on an RBI groundout. Pierzynski came across the plate to score the eighth inning run after reaching on a fielder's choice.

And though Pierzynski's 0-for-3 performance still may not look like much, he also caught a second consecutive shutout, which is all that matters to the backstop.

Pierzynski, like Guillen, was satisfied with the way the White Sox rotation has risen to the challenge left to it after Jose Contreras' season-ending injury.

"That's what they have to do," Pierzynski said. "That's why it's a team. It's not one guy or one person. It's about 25 guys and we're on about our 28th, 29th, 35th guy by now. It's a total team effort."

"We can't sit down and feel sorry for ourselves because we lost some players," Guillen added. "I think all of a sudden the guys have stepped it up and done their jobs. If we didn't have the guys, we could say, 'We don't know what's going to happen.' But I believe we still have some people out there that can do what they've been doing."

David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.