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Offense backs Buehrle's strong effort

5/21/2011

Coming into the season, the Chicago White Sox offense was expected to be one of the best in the league. Saying Sox hitters have underperformed would be an understatement.

However, on Saturday the bats came to life as the Sox pounded out 16 hits, six for extra bases, and scored nine runs in a 9-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While warm weather may be one factor, Paul Konerko (3-for-5, 3 RBIs) felt that the offense gained confidence watching Mark Buehrle perform so well on the mound.

“When your starting pitcher looks good and is throwing good, you feel like you only need a couple runs to win,” Konerko said. “What usually happens is you loosen up and get nine.”

Buehrle gave the White Sox seven solid innings, giving up only two runs and delivering his fifth straight quality start (35 IP, 2.57 ERA in that span). Buehrle said all his pitches were working, but gave a lot of the credit to the guys playing behind him.

“I made some mistakes and they put the ball in play, but I had some good defense behind me,” Buehrle said. “I’ve always said this game is a lot of luck, when you’re missing your spots you hope they hit ’em right to [the defender]. The guys were running some balls down a few of those innings.”

Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was pleased to see his team bounce back from a tough loss the previous night. The White Sox blew a late lead in the ninth on Friday and lost in the 10th, but they didn’t let that disappointment carry over.

Guillen was hopeful that Alex Rios, who hit a two-run home run, may be coming out of his season-long slump. The White Sox also got a boost from Brent Lillibridge (2-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored, and two RBIs), who was a late addition to the lineup after Carlos Quentin was scratched with a bruised left knee.

“Magic,” Guillen said about Lillibridge’s performance, “Every time he’s put in the lineup, he makes something happen. Steal a base, hit a home run… he’s played very well for us.”

The only starter who failed to get a hit was Adam Dunn. Dunn, whose average dipped to .190, struck out four times to bring his season total to 57. That gave him the dubious distinction of being baseball’s leader in whiffs and put him on pace for a record-breaking 231 strikeouts for the season.

Dunn started at first base for only the third time this season, as Guillen thought playing the field could possibly help Dunn get out of his slump. Guillen said Saturday was the worst he’d seen Dunn perform in a White Sox uniform, but said Dunn would get the start at first base again tomorrow.

Dunn may get a day off on the White Sox’s upcoming road trip against Texas, Toronto and Boston, which Guillen said would hopefully help Dunn “mentally relax”.

As for Quentin, Guillen said his knee was sore, but he didn’t think it was anything major. Regardless, Quentin won’t start on Sunday and will be re-evaluated before the Sox start a series on Monday against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.