CHICAGO (AP)—Mark Buehrle gave the White Sox the veteran performance they needed on short rest. Now it’s up to a youngster to keep their season going against a familiar foe.
Buehrle pitched seven strong innings and, backed by four double plays, beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Sunday to keep Chicago in the race for the AL Central.
The White Sox still trail the Twins by a half-game after Minnesota beat Kansas City 6-0, meaning they must play a makeup game at home Monday against Detroit. If the White Sox win that one, Chicago would host a tiebreaker game against the Twins on Tuesday for the division title.
“You play 161 games and today is supposed to be the last day of the year,” Buehrle said. “Everybody is going home, a lot of people are going to the playoffs and here we got to play another game that matters for us and not for the other team.”
Gavin Floyd will take the mound for the White Sox against the Tigers’ Freddy Garcia, who won three games for Chicago during the 2005 postseason, including the clinching Game 4 of the World Series against the Astros.
Garcia is also a close friend of White Sox manager and fellow Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen.
“Freddy is not going to go there and just pitch, he’s going to try and beat us. I know him real well and he’s going to try and show he can still pitch,” Guillen said.
“I’m sure the last thing those guys want to do is get on a plane, but they are professionals and if I was them and had to get on a plane and come here, I’m going to make it hurt,” added Paul Konerko, who homered Sunday for the fourth time in three games.
“We better be ready to play.”
The White Sox were ready on Sunday after a stretch of miserable baseball.
Coming off a 121-pitch outing, Buehrle (15-12) made his third start on short rest this season and his second in September. He allowed one run and nine hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked one, throwing 111 pitches.
Guillen said earlier that he was worried about Buehrle’s arm falling off after so many pitches in his previous outing.
“Down in the bullpen I was a little shaky. I came into the game and everything was working, everything felt fine. My arm felt good,” Buehrle said. “Felt loose.”
Buehrle even acknowledged that it was probably the most important game since he pitched in the 2005 World Series.
“Any time you are pitching in the postseason or the World Series, those games are obviously bigger, but I don’t think there has been one this big since,” he added.
Jermaine Dye had a clutch two-run single for the White Sox in the seventh. Chicago scored three runs in the third when Indians third baseman Jamey Carroll made a key error that allowed the go-ahead run to score.
After singles by Uribe and Cabrera, Dye delivered a two-out, two-run single in the seventh off Juan Rincon.
Bullington (0-2) gave up three runs—two earned—and five hits in five innings. Cleveland finished a disappointing season at 81-81 after falling to 37-53 after play on July 9.
“It’s a heck of an accomplishment to come back from where we were,” said manager Eric Wedge, whose club was 44-28 since July 10. “Things didn’t play out like we would have liked with the injuries and trades and some of the things that didn’t go our way. But our guys didn’t make any excuses, they just kept playing.”
Buehrle picked Franklin Gutierrez off in the fifth. It was the left-hander’s 59th career pickoff and seventh this season. … Indians CF Grady Sizemore made a highlight-reel catch in the seventh, leaping up against the fence in right center to rob Pierzynski.