White Sox 3, Athletics 2

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CHICAGO (AP)—Mark Buehrle didn’t need too much help. And when he did, Carl Everett was there.

Buehrle pitched a five-hitter, outdueling Mark Mulder as the Chicago White Sox edged the Oakland Athletics 3-2 Friday night and took over the AL Central lead.

The White Sox won for the 16th time in 20 games and moved into first place for the first time since May 25, 2002, nudging a half-game ahead of Kansas City. The Royals lost at Tampa Bay 4-0.

Everett made the big play, robbing Ramon Hernandez of a home run in the seventh inning. Everett leaped up against the center-field fence and brought back the ball, preserving a 3-2 lead.

“I thought it was a couple of rows deep,” Buehrle said. “I still didn’t think he caught it until he was running out and pulled it out of his glove. That was a game-saver right there.”

Oakland manager Ken Macha agreed.

“That saved the game for them,” said Macha. “That was a great play.”

Buehrle (10-11) struck out six and walked none in his second complete game of the season and 11th of his career. He retired 17 of the last 19 batters.

Buehrle felt the energy from the 24,118 fans. The crowd came to its feet when he came out to pitch the ninth.

“I just tried not to get too worked up, I kind of got chills. I think it was the seventh inning when they started standing up. I just had to keep the mindset not to overthrow,” he said.

Magglio Ordonez went 3-for-4 with home run for the surging White Sox.

“This is where we wanted to be and where everyone expected us to be,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “We should be able to sustain this level of play.”

Mulder (15-8) gave up three runs and 10 hits in eight innings in his major league-leading ninth complete game this season. He struck out two and walked none in falling to 4-1 against the White Sox in his career.

Once again, Buehrle and Mulder worked quickly. The game took only 1:53— they’ve matched up three times in their careers, and each time the game has been played in under two hours.

Erubiel Durazo homered in the second, and Jose Guillen hit an RBI double in the third to give the A’s a 2-0 lead.

But the White Sox came back and took the lead against Mulder with a run in the third and two in the fourth.

Joe Crede led off the third with a double and moved to third on Sandy Alomar Jr.’s sacrifice. Tony Graffanino followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.

Ordonez tied it with a home run leading off the fourth inning. Center fielder Eric Byrnes made a leaping attempt to rob Ordonez, but the ball bounced out of his glove.

Mulder then allowed consecutive singles to Carlos Lee, Everett and Paul Konerko. Crede then hit into a bases-loaded double play, scoring Lee and giving the White Sox a 3-2 lead.

“Pretty much all of their hits, with an exception of a few, were at the middle of the plate,” said Mulder. “They were not quality pitches, that’sall.”

Notes

The White Sox have homered in 19 consecutive home games, extending the club’s record. … Ordonez tied Robin Ventura for fourth on the team’s career list with his 171st homer. … A’s third baseman Eric Chavez made a diving stopon Alomar’s grounder in the seventh and threw him out from the ground.

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