Chicago (42-44) at Tampa Bay (30-55)

Partly Cloudy Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 76° F
  • Game info: 1:15 pm EDT Sun Jul 6, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Mark Buehrle has been one of the main reasons for the Chicago White Sox’s resurgence in the AL Central.

The left-hander will look to win his fifth straight start and help the White Sox avert a three-game sweep to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays—who likely will be led by a newly blond Lou Piniella.

Buehrle, who went 35-20 over the previous two seasons, began this year with a dismal 2-10 mark, a stretch that included a 12-start winless streak from April 15-June 11.

The White Sox dropped to 29-35 after Buehrle was pounded for eight runs over 4 1-3 innings in an 11-4 loss to San Francisco on June 11. However, Buehrle has snapped back into form, running off four straight wins while allowing just one earned run in three of those outings.

The White Sox have followed suit, going 13-5 to pull within 4 1/2 games of Kansas City for first place in the Central.

On Tuesday, Buehrle yielded a run and eight hits over eight innings in a 6-1 victory over Minnesota, striking out five without a walk.

“I’m winning, finally,” Buehrle said. “I’m attacking the strike zone, my sinker’s working a lot better for me. But overall it’s just going out there and throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead in the count so I can throw my pitch in any count.”

The White Sox had won six of seven before dropping two in a row to the Devil Rays.

On Saturday, Javier Valentin homered and Jorge Sosa picked up his first victory since April as Tampa Bay completed its first three-game winning streak under Piniella.

Piniella, who vowed to dye his hair if the Devil Rays won three in a row at any point this season, said he will fulfill his promise before Sunday’s game.

“The guy will be here tomorrow morning and by game time I’ll be a blond. That’s what they want. That’s what they’ll get,” Piniella said.

“I’m happy to do it, believe me. It took to the middle of July to win three in a row, and that’s with spring training included. So, I’m happy to do it. I really am. I’m happier for them than anything else.”

STANDINGS: White Sox - 3rd place, 4 1/2 GB, AL Central. Devil Rays - 5th place, 21 1/2 GB, AL East.

WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Buehrle (6-10, 4.36 ERA). Buehrle is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA in eight career appearances, including three starts, against the Devil Rays.

DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Standridge (0-3, 3.99 ERA). Making his 17th career appearance and seventh big league start, Standridge is still searching for his first win. The right-hander is winless in five starts this year, but did pitch well without receiving a decision in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 win over Boston on Tuesday. Standridge allowed one run and six hits over 5 2-3 innings, striking two one and walking two. He has pitched two innings of scoreless relief in his career against the White Sox.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: White Sox - Frank Thomas, .287 avg. and 20 HRs; Carlos Lee, 49 RBIs and 8 SBs; Magglio Ordonez, 46 runs. Devil Rays - Rocco Baldelli, .309 avg.; Aubrey Huff, 16 HRs, 49 RBIs and 47 runs; Carl Crawford, 19 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Devil Rays, 2-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: White Sox - Newly acquired OF Carl Everett ended an 0-for-8 slump since joining the White Sox with a double in the fourth inning Saturday. … Chicago has not lost three in a row since dropping five straight from May 30-June 4. … LHP Buehrle is 3-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 10 road starts this year. Devil Rays - The current Devil Rays are hitting just .194 (7-for-36) with two homers and three RBIs against LHP Buehrle. … Tampa Bay has not won four straight since May 18-22, 2002. … RHP Standridge is 0-2 with a 4.07 ERA in four home starts this season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: White Sox - 16-26 on the road; Devil Rays - 19-27 at home.

INJURIES: White Sox - LHP Kelly Wunsch (strained left side), 15-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Joe Kennedy (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Buehrle Tor vs. J. Standridge Phi
14-14 Record 0-5
4.14 ERA 6.37
119 K 20
61 BB 16
1.35 WHIP 1.53