CLEVELAND – Mark Buehrle finally beat Cleveland for the first time in more than two years and Paul Konerko hit a two-run homer, leading the Chicago White Sox to a 5-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday.
Buehrle (7-5) had been winless in his previous eight start against the Indians, last defeating them on July 16, 2005.
The left-hander, who threw a no-hitter earlier this season against Texas, was in control from the outset. He mixed looping curveballs and changeups with a sneaky fastball to keep the Indians off balance and scoreless until the seventh.
Buehrle walked one, struck out three, but most importantly, he kept the ball away from Chicago’s horrid bullpen as long as possible.
On Tuesday night, manager Ozzie Guillen let Jon Garland throw 122 pitches – the most by a Chicago starter this season – and he extended Buehrle until he had little choice but to pull him.
Trailing 4-0, the Indians finally got to Buehrle in the seventh as Franklin Gutierrez doubled and scored on Grady Sizemore’s one-out single. After Casey Blake’s single, Guillen brought in lefty Matt Thornton, who got Victor Martinez to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Over the past 60 games, Chicago’s bullpen is 3-14, blown 10 saves and has had its ERA rise more than two points.
The White Sox added a run in the eighth off rookie Jensen Lewis on Rob Mackowiak’s RBI single, his third hit.
Konerko’s homer in the fourth off Jake Westbrook (1-5) gave the White Sox a 3-0 lead.
With Jim Thome on following a leadoff single, Konerko battled Westbrook in an 11-pitch at-bat – fouling off five pitches with two strikes – before connecting for his 20th homer.
Since June 1, Konerko is batting .320 (49-of-149) with 13 doubles, 13 homers, 28 walks and 31 RBIs.
Mackowiak followed Konerko’s shot with a double and scored on Jermaine Dye’s double, giving the White Sox a 4-0 lead over Westbrook, who needed 37 pitches to get three outs in the fourth.
Westbrook spent six weeks on the disabled list with a strained left side muscle and hasn’t won since he’s been back. He lasted six innings but remains winless since April 27 – a span of six starts.
The White Sox took two of three from the Indians, who had been 10-0 in the finale of three-game series at home this season.
Chicago, way out of the playoff picture and playing mostly for pride, improved to 3-4 on a season-long, 11-game road trip that will resume Thursday in Boston.
Westbrook was in trouble right away as the White Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the first on two singles and a walk. The right-hander, though, avoided major disaster by getting Konerko to ground into a 3-6-1 double play that scored one.
Westbrook appeared to hurt himself while covering first on the play, and walked slowly to the dugout when the inning ended. Usually, he sprints off the field ahead of his teammates.
Notes: Buehrle’s 104th career win moved him into a tie with Thornton Lee for 11th place in career wins for the White Sox. … Sizemore, who seems to make a sensational catch every game, laid out to grab Konerko’s sinking liner in the sixth. … Of the Indians’ 28 come-from-behind wins this season, 14 have happened after the club was tied or trailing after seven innings. Cleveland had 12 such wins last season. … Indians 1B Ryan Garko extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a second-inning single.