White Sox have no cure for Halladay
Offense sputters, wastes Buehrle's complete-game gem
TORONTO -- Career victory No. 100 is proving to be very elusive for Mark Buehrle.
Chicago's left-hander limited the Blue Jays to just two hits but still ended up taking the loss as the White Sox dropped their fifth straight game, this time by a score of 2-0, on Thursday night at Rogers Centre.
Despite losing a game he should have won, Buehrle refused to blame his team's offense for a lack of run support. He thinks these type of things have a way of working themselves out over the course of a season.
"I have games where I'll probably give up seven or eight runs and we're going to win the game," Buehrle said. "Through the course of a season, you're going to have good games you're going to lose, and bad games you're going to win. It all evens out."
Buehrle struck out six, and didn't allow a walk, on his way to collecting his second complete game of the season and the 21st of his career. He's now gone at least six innings in all but one of his 10 starts this season.
After the game, Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay had nothing but praise for the Sox lefty.
"He just makes quality pitches," Overbay said. "For me, those pitches just look so good coming in, and then they end up jamming you. It's one of those things where you really have to lay off the balls. ... I think he makes a lot of pitches look like strikes and then they end up being out of the zone or down, and if you do get a hit, you're lucky."
Buehrle's tough luck on Thursday night means he is still searching for career victory No. 100. Buehrle won his 99th career game on April 23, against the Royals, but since that time he has gone 0-2 with four no-decisions.
It's not the missed milestone victory that was on Buehrle's mind after the game, though. It was the inability to halt Chicago's losing streak.
"I would have liked to get this one today," Buehrle said. "Not for me, but the whole team's been struggling. Offense has been putting runs up for us, but the starting staff hasn't been doing their job. Today it was vice versa, but hopefully we'll get back on the winning side."
The only two hits Buehrle allowed on the night were solo home runs. The first came in the bottom of the second inning, when Jays second baseman Aaron Hill took a 1-1 fastball over the wall in straightaway center for his eighth homer of the year. The second was courtesy of Buehrle's former teammate, designated hitter Frank Thomas.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Thomas crushed a pitch from Buehrle into the second deck in left field for his eighth home run of the season. Thomas now has 495 career home runs and is tied with Edgar Martinez for most home runs ever hit by a DH, with 243.
Buehrle thinks he could have done a better job on the Hill at-bat -- but just tips his cap to Thomas, who is hitting .364 with five home runs and 10 RBIs against his former club.
"That's what Frank is paid to do," Buehrle said. "I made one mistake and it was to Hill. That pitch to Frank could have been up a little bit more, but it was inside, I mean it wasn't over the plate."
It's the second time this season the Sox have lost a game in which a starter has given up two hits or fewer. The first came on April 15, when right-hander Jose Contreras allowed only one hit in a 2-1 loss against the Indians.
Chicago's offense is ranks last in the American League with a .236 average, 200 runs scored, and a .374 slugging percentage. Heading into Thursday night's game, though, it looked like the Sox bats were starting to turn the corner. They had collected at least 10 hits in seven of their last 10 games.
Jays ace Roy Halladay put an end to that. Halladay, who missed the last three weeks with acute appendicitis, allowed six hits while striking out seven over seven innings of shutout baseball.
The former Cy Young Award winner one-upped Buehrle by picking up his 100th victory in his 200th career start. White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski says that despite Halladay's stint on the disabled list, it's obvious the Jays righty wasn't showing any kinds of rust.
"He's Roy Halladay -- let's be honest, he's as good as it gets," Pierzynski said. "He's won a Cy Young for a reason and it doesn't matter DL, no DL, or whatever. The stuff he was firing out there tonight, the way his ball moves, he just didn't make any mistakes."
The Sox offense will need to find a way to turn it around without the services of Darin Erstad. The Sox center fielder had to be helped off the field by Chicago's medical staff after he swung and missed at a 2-1 pitch from Halladay in the sixth inning.
During the follow-through of his swing, Erstad crumpled to the ground and grabbed the back of his left leg. Erstad remained on the ground for several minutes before being helped off the field by Chicago's medical staff. Reserve outfielder Luis Terrero came in to finish the at-bat and struck out swinging.
The game took just one hour and 50 minutes to play, which is not surprising, considering that, over the last five seasons, Buehrle and Halladay have the fastest average time for games in the Major Leagues.
With the loss, the White Sox finish May with a 12-14 record. It's the first time since 2003 they have recorded a losing record during that month.
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.