CHICAGO (AP) -- The ovation was loud and long, the crowd sending
a message to Mark Buehrle as he walked off the mound.
Whether the fans were thanking him or telling him it's about
time can be debated. This can't: Buehrle had his best game in
months, and the Chicago White Sox got a much-needed victory over
the Minnesota Twins.Buehrle won for the second time in two months, A.J. Pierzynski
and Joe Crede hit consecutive home runs and the White Sox won 6-1
Sunday to cut the Twins' lead in the AL wild-card race to a
half-game.Pierzynski and Crede connected in the fifth as Chicago turned a
one-run edge into a 5-1 lead, and the White Sox went on to avoid a
three-game sweep.Buehrle (11-11) left to a standing ovation after allowing
back-to-back singles by Luis Castillo and Nick Punto with one out
in the eighth."It was louder than it was during the World Series," Buehrle
said.Mike MacDougal relieved and Mike Redmond grounded into an
inning-ending double play.Buehrle -- 2-7 in his last 11 starts -- allowed one run and nine
hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter.Carlos Silva (8-12) continued to be bothered by the long ball,
allowing three homers after giving up five in a loss to Baltimore.
He lasted six innings, giving up six runs and 11 hits.Pierzynski, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the game, followed
Paul Konerko's two-out single with a two-run shot to right for his
12th homer. Crede then lined his 28th.Juan Uribe hit his 16th leading off the White Sox sixth.Silva watched video afterward and noticed only one hanging pitch
-- the changeup that Pierzynski knocked out."I don't feel that I've been throwing the ball bad," he said.Scott Podsednik had three hits and Konerko, Crede and Brian
Anderson each had two.The Twins got three hits from Luis Castillo but little else.
Still, this was a good series for Minnesota.The Twins won 5-4 Friday on Jason Bartlett's RBI single in the
ninth to take over the wild-card lead. On Saturday, Chicago's
Jermaine Dye hit a two-run homer off Joe Nathan in the ninth, but
Minnesota won 8-7 when Punto singled in the go-ahead run off Matt
Thornton in the 11th.The teams close out the regular season with a three-game series
in Minnesota that could be for a playoff spot."I expect that," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "It's going to be about the
pitching down the stretch and who can maintain."The Twins got a run in the first on consecutive one-out singles
by Punto, Redmond and Michael Cuddyer.Buehrle settled down from there, and a White Sox team that had
lost seven of its previous eight to Minnesota took a 2-1 lead in
the third.With runners on first-and-third after Podsednik laid down a bunt
single and Bartlett misplayed Tadahito Iguchi's grounder to
shortstop, Dye tied it with an infield single up the middle.
Konerko then drove in Iguchi with a double off the wall in
left-center to make it 2-1.After Silva hit Pierzynski to load the bases, Punto knocked down
Crede's hard one-hopper before stepping on third and throwing to
first for the double play.The lead held. Buehrle pitched like his old self."That's what we're all used to seeing," Cuddyer said. "He had
good life on his fastball today. He was pounding guys in. His
cutter was working in and he was keeping guys off balance with his
changeup and his curveball. He wasn't leaving very many cutters
over the plate today. That's how we're used to seeing Buehrle
pitch. They needed him to go out there and step up. He did what a
true ace does."
White Sox DH Jim Thome missed his fourth straight game with
a strained left hamstring and remains day to day. "When he's ready
to go, I'll let you know," Guillen said. "Right now, he's not."
After a day off, the White Sox open a three-game series against
Tampa Bay on Tuesday. ... Guillen said he has no plans to shake up
his starting rotation, meaning Brandon McCarthy will stay in the
bullpen. McCarthy allowed one hit and one run in 5 1-3 innings
Saturday after Jose Contreras got knocked out in the third. ...
Twins RHP Jesse Crain was unavailable for a second straight day
with a sore groin.