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Lee outduels Buehrle; Tribe pound slumping ChiSox

CHICAGO (AP) -- Just when the White Sox thought their starting
pitching was coming around following three straight solid efforts
in Boston, Mark Buehrle failed to get out of the fifth inning.

Cliff Lee pitched six strong innings for Cleveland, and the
Indians got homers by Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez off
Buehrle to beat the slumping White Sox 9-1 Thursday night.

"I think you can blame the season on the starting staff. We
haven't been where we wanted to be and where we were last year,"
Buehrle said. "Everybody had career years last year, and I don't
think you can expect every guy to duplicate what happened last
season. Obviously, we're not close to what we did last year, and
that's been our downfall."

Not that the defending World Series champions are out of the
playoff picture. They're still only one-half game behind the Twins
for the AL wild card and 5½ back of Detroit in the AL Central, that
despite losing six of eight.

"We got to be thankful that the two teams in front of us,
they're in a little funk right now, as well," Buehrle said.

Cleveland, which has won 13 of 18, generated five runs with
two-out hits, including a pair by rookie Ryan Garko, who was
3-for-3 with two walks. Andy Marte singled, double and tripled for
the Indians, who had 17 hits.

"Obviously they're playing to make the playoffs and we're
playing to get on a good streak for next year," said Lee, who gave
up a run and five hits.

Garko, batting .349 in his last 16 games, has given the Indians
an offensive lift, especially while Travis Hafner has been
sidelined after being hit in the hand with a pitch last Friday.

"We had some guys who really clutched up. Garko had a couple of
big hits for us," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "Garko is
right in the middle of our lineup. Particularly with Hafner out of
there, he's done an outstanding job."

Lee (12-10), who retired the first 10 batters, walked Tadahito
Iguchi and Jermaine Dye in the fourth for his first runners before
retiring Jim Thome on a flyout and Paul Konerko on a popup.

Rob Mackowiak got Chicago's first hit with a leadoff single in
the fifth. Lee lost his shutout bid the following inning when
Iguchi doubled and Dye singled to cut the Indians' lead to 7-1. But
a potential rally attempt was stopped by Dye's baserunning blunder
-- he took off from second on Mackowiak's one-out fly ball to center
and easily was doubled off.

"That tells you how bad we played," Chicago manager Ozzie
Guillen said of Dye's gaffe. "That's not the first time somebody
has made a mistake."

Buehrle (12-12) gave up five runs -- four earned -- and 10 hits in
four-plus innings. The All-Star lefty dropped to 3-6 in the second
half and is 0-3 in five starts against the Indians this season.

"Obviously we're not playing as well as we want," Buehrle
said. "If we go out and play as well as we can and don't get in
the playoffs, it's going to stink, but we tried as hard as we
could."

Sizemore, the Indians' talented center fielder and leadoff
hitter, got his AL-leading 81st extra-base hit with an
opposite-field homer to left -- his 23rd -- to make it 2-0 in the
third.

Jason Michaels followed with a double and Garko delivered his
second straight two-out RBI single to make it 3-0.

Cleveland scored in the first when Buehrle brushed Sizemore's
jersey with a pitch, and Michaels singled. After Martinez grounded
into a double play that sent Sizemore to third, Garko singled.

Martinez led off the fifth with his 14th homer to put Cleveland
up four and after Garko singled for third straight hit, Buehrle was
replaced by rookie knuckleballer Charlie Haeger.

Haeger got Casey Blake to ground to shortstop, but Juan Uribe
threw the ball past second for an error, putting runners at second
and third. With two outs, Aaron Boone hit a two-run single, and
Marte followed with a triple off the center-field fence to make it
7-0.

Blake hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the eighth for an 8-1
lead.

Game notes
Buehrle, one of the fastest working pitchers in the majors,
threw 85 pitches in his short outing. ... The Indians were 5-14
against the White Sox last season. They are 8-5 this year. ...
Hafner missed his sixth straight game after being hit on the hand
with a pitch by the Ranger' C.J. Wilson last Friday. ... Lee's win
over the White Sox was his first since June 2004. He is 1-2 against
them this season.