The Chicago White Sox counted on Mark Buehrle(notes) to end their longest losing streak of the season in his last start. Now, they’re looking to him to help complete their first three-game sweep this year.
Buehrle goes for his seventh win Sunday when the White Sox close their series against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
Buehrle (6-1, 2.77 ERA) has been the most consistent starter for Chicago (19-23) this season. He leads the team in wins, is second in innings pitched - with one less start than leader Gavin Floyd(notes) - and has the lowest ERA among the starters.
The left-hander helped Chicago snap a five-game losing streak Tuesday against the Twins, allowing two runs - one earned - over seven innings in a 6-2 victory. It was the fifth time in eight starts that Buehrle has given up two or fewer runs.
“Everything he does makes me smile and makes my job a lot easier,” manager Ozzie Guillen told the White Sox’s official Web site. “He steps it up when we need it. … When you have your starting pitcher fighting for you, it’s a different type of ball game.
Buehrle has dominated the Pirates (19-24) in three career starts, going 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA. He’ll try to extend Chicago’s scoreless inning streak.
Since giving up 20 runs in a loss to the Twins on Thursday, Chicago has yet to allow another run. Gavin Floyd gave up two hits in eight innings of a 2-0 win Friday and Clayton Richard(notes) followed by allowing four hits over six innings in Saturday’s 4-0 victory. The White Sox have won four of five after a 1-7 stretch where the starters were 0-5 with a 7.88 ERA.
The last time Chicago shut out the same opponent in three straight games was July 1964 against the Indians.
The Pirates, meanwhile, haven’t been shut out in three straight since Aug. 28-30, 1968. Saturday marked the sixth time they’ve been shut out this season and the second time in back-to-back games.
Pittsburgh was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and didn’t get a runner past second base. It entered this series having scored 40 runs during a five-game winning streak.
“It’s funny, it seems to hit everybody at once,” manager John Russell said.
Karstens allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings of an 8-5, 10-inning win over Washington on Tuesday. The Pirates had lost the right-hander’s previous four starts.
Karstens made one relief appearance against the White Sox in 2007 with the New York Yankees, allowing three runs and five hits over 3 1-3 innings.
Guillen is expected to rejoin the White Sox after missing Saturday’s game to be with his ailing father in Venezuela. Bench coach Joey Cora, though, is expected to manage the team again.