Buehrle helps Guillen to 400th victory
Lefty goes 7 1/3 strong innings; Swisher, Ramirez belt homers
CHICAGO -- When Ozzie Guillen gets angry, his team usually responds.
That scenario has played out frequently during the course of the South Siders' highly successful first four months to the 2008 campaign. Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field was no different.
After a rough Monday night setback, the team's third straight, Guillen basically told the media he was not going to make things comfortable for his players who were struggling and that his patience was wearing somewhat thin. Twenty-four hours later, Guillen was celebrating his 400th career victory and the White Sox losing skid was no more after a 10-2 pasting of the Rangers before 32,670 at U.S. Cellular Field.
"I guess I've been lucky that every time I get upset, the team reacts, but I don't want to get a heart attack just to win the game," said Guillen with a laugh. "I believe in what I have. I know my coaching staff, [general manager] Kenny [Williams], we believe in what we have out there.
"That's why sometimes ... I'm not going to say it's disappointing, but sometimes it's like 'Wow, what's going on here?'"
Tuesday did not represent one of those frustrating moments.
Mark Buehrle (8-8) set the tone for this victory, allowing one run on six hits over 7 1/3 innings. The southpaw struck out three, didn't walk a hitter and held the Rangers (52-49) scoreless until Chris Davis' mammoth blast leading off the eighth.
All of these accomplishments were put together with Buehrle working on three days' rest for the fourth time in his stellar career, as his start was pushed up one day so he could attend his paternal grandfather's funeral back in Missouri. The emotion of the situation didn't play a factor, according to Buehrle, even when the crowd gave him a rousing standing ovation as he exited the mound in the eighth.
"Once the game started, the emotions were kind of left behind, and I concentrated on what I was doing," said Buehrle, who threw an economic 91 pitches in improving to 6-2 with a 1.76 ERA in his last nine starts, yielding just 13 earned runs over 66 1/3 innings. "I had a feeling why the crowd was going crazy, but I'm sure the emotions will pick back up the next couple of days."
"He certainly kept the ball off the fat part of the bat," said Texas manager Ron Washington of Buehrle, who raised his career record to 10-3 against the Rangers. "He used his changeup and cutter effectively."
Buehrle pitched out of a two-out, two-on jam in the first inning and stranded Hank Blalock at third after a triple to open the second. Jermaine Dye, who had three hits in his return from a one-day absence due to a bruised right knee, doubled home a run off of Luis Mendoza (2-4) in the first, but it was Nick Swisher's three-run blast that highlighted a four-run fourth and gave the White Sox control with a 5-0 advantage.
Swisher has 14 home runs for the season but has knocked out nine long balls and picked up 32 RBIs over his last 39 games. The center fielder seems to be warming up with the weather.
"It seems like that because I'm a horrible hitter in April," said a smiling Swisher. "It's really been a great year so far, as we've really dealt with so much adversity."
Mendoza gave up one run over six innings, striking out eight, when he defeated the White Sox on July 11 in Texas. The White Sox scored six runs on nine hits in four-plus innings against Mendoza on Tuesday, with every starter reaching base at least once before the victory was complete.
"Things go weird like that sometimes," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who had one hit and drove in a run. "A guy can have your number one week, and the next week, you come out and hit him like crazy."
The White Sox improved to 56-43 overall and increased their lead to 1 1/2 games over the Twins in the American League Central, as Minnesota lost again at Yankee Stadium. It was a milestone win for Guillen, an important win for the White Sox and a special victory via a gritty effort from their ace hurler.
"Before the game today, I said he would do something special," Swisher said of Buehrle. "He pitched a great game, and we wanted to be behind him 150 percent. It was a great day, and I was very proud of him."
"There was a lot of concern. Three-game losing streak, a lot of people were pushing the panic button," Guillen added. "The way other teams were playing, then you've got Buehrle on three days' rest, with people asking about his grandfather. But Buehrle's going to go out there and do what he's supposed to do every day. I don't have any doubt of that."
Guillen has the same sort of confidence that his team has playoff capabilities, with or without an extra push from his public wrath.
"That's the expectation," Guillen said. "All those guys out there, they believe, at least they should believe, the talent we have and how good we can play. You saw why we're in first place."
"Ozzie has done a great job of keeping in mind to worry about ourselves and worry about what we can control," Dye added. "And that's how we play and we win ballgames. We'll let everyone else worry about things outside the clubhouse."
Alexei Ramirez hit his first career grand slam, a seventh-inning blast that put the game out of reach.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.