BALTIMORE (AP)– Scoring four runs before making an out, the Chicago White Sox made it easy for Mark Buehrle to reach double figures in wins for an 11 straight season.
Buehrle pitched eight innings to earn his 10th win, Alexei Ramirez homered in a four-run first, and Chicago cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 Thursday night.
Juan Pierre had three hits and two RBIs for the White Sox, who took three of four from the Orioles to complete a 6-1 road trip. Chicago is 58-59, but that’s good enough to be four games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
“Any other division we’re looking at offseason plans like fishing. But in this division were still in the middle of it,” Pierre said. “Without a doubt the best road trip we have had all year. Everything clicked all throughout the lineup.”
Pierre led off the first inning with a single and Ramirez hit Chris Tillman’s eighth pitch into the left-field seats. Paul Konerko doubled and scored on a double by Carlos Quentin, and A.J. Pierzynski followed with another double to make it 4-0 on the 16th offering by Tillman, who needed 32 pitches to retire the side.
That was enough support for Buehrle, who hadn’t given up more than three runs in a game since April 22.
“With Buehrle on the mound throwing the ball the way he has been the last few months, you feel comfortable,” manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Buehrle (10-5) gave up three runs and six hits, struck out six and walked none. The left-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in 18 straight starts, matching the club record set by Frank Smith in 1909, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
Buehrle is 4-0 in his last five starts, and his run of 10-win seasons is a franchise record. In this one, the early cushion didn’t hurt.
“You still to go out there and pitch, but any time you get runs early in the game it helps out, especially before you take the mound,” Buehrle said. “The goal I always go for is to go deep in the game, have us score runs and have the bullpen protect your leads.”
Sergio Santos worked a perfect ninth for his 25th save. Santos set a major league record by starting the season with 25 straight scoreless appearances on the road, breaking the mark set by Mariano Rivera in 2005. He has a 30-game scoreless run on the road over two seasons.
Nick Markakis hit his 100th career home run for the Orioles, who have lost seven of nine. Tillman (3-5) didn’t get an out until his 20th pitch and ended up giving up six runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings.
“You see Buehrle out there, and as soon as it goes 4- and 6-0, it just plays right into his hands,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He takes your aggressiveness and uses it against you. He has so many things to speed you up and slow you down. If you had to pick a guy to pitch when you get in that situation, he’s a blueprint.”
Tillman escaped damage in the second despite giving up a leadoff double to Pierre but couldn’t get out of the third. Adam Dunn walked and took third on a single by Brent Morel, who took an extra base when Markakis attempted to throw out Dunn at third. Pierre followed with a two-run single off the glove of first baseman Chris Davis for a 6-0 lead.
In the bottom half, Nolan Reimold doubled and scored on a single by J.J. Hardy before Markakis launched a shot over the right-field scoreboard.
After Baltimore put runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth, Buehrle struck out Markakis. The Orioles had only one baserunner the rest of the way– Reimold, who beat out a grounder with two outs in the seventh.
NOTES: After the game Tillman was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Pierzynski finished with three hits and went 10 for 17 in the series to raise his batting average 15 points to .295. The teams split the eight-game season series. The White Sox head home to face the Kansas City Royals in a three-game series that begins Friday. Zach Stewart (1-1) will pitch for Chicago, the only AL team with a losing record at home (24-32) and a winning record (34-27) on the road. The White Sox have won eight of nine road games. Baltimore begins a three-game set against Detroit on Friday night. Alfredo Simon will pitch for the Orioles, still in search of their first series win since June 24-26 against Cincinnati. The Orioles have lost nine of their last 10 series finales. It was the 20th anniversary of the no-hitter that Chicago’s Wilson Alvarez threw against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)