Buehrle stays tough at home as White Sox close in on Tigers

CHICAGO -- When the Baltimore Orioles insisted upon giving away the game, the Chicago White Sox happily accepted the generosity.

After Baltimore first baseman Ty Wigginton dropped a routine throw to let Alexei Ramirez reach base in Saturday's fifth inning, Orioles starter Brad Bergesen threw a non-sinking sinker that Jermaine Dye hit for the go-ahead home run.

In the end, the White Sox won 4-3 and moved within 1½ games of Detroit, the closest they've been to the AL Central lead since May 3.

"Early in the year, we'd make mistakes and other teams would counter," Dye said. "It's good to be on the other end of it."

Since falling to 15-22 and 5½ games back on May 18, the White Sox have gone 32-21.

"Not too many people thought ... we'd be in this situation," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We started poorly, we had a lot of guys hurt, guys were not performing. But we're feeling pretty good now. That has a lot to do with chemistry, with us believing in ourselves and with us being there before."

One of the mainstays of Chicago's 2005 championship team, Mark Buehrle, is pitching as well as ever. He allowed eight hits and one run over 7 1/3 innings, and is 14-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 20 home starts dating to the 2008 All-Star break.

Buehrle (10-3), who has reached double-digit victories for the ninth straight year, keeps winning despite relying heavily on fastballs that rarely travel 90 mph.

"Every time I take Buehrle out, I always ask [catcher A.J. Pierzynski]: 'How does he do this?" Guillen said. "But he knows how: throwing strikes, changing speeds and hitting locations. That's why he makes a lot of money."

The Orioles, an AL-worst 14-29 on the road, loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but Aubrey Huff and Wigginton were retired by Matt Thornton. Bobby Jenks gave up RBI singles to Nolan Reimold and Brian Roberts in the ninth before earning his 21st save by getting Markakis to ground out.

Bergesen (6-4) allowed only three hits through four innings, but the rookie right-hander was unnerved by Wigginton's error. After Dye's homer, Bergesen surrendered five straight hits, including RBI singles by Pierzynski and Gordon Beckham that put Chicago up 4-1.

"Once I started getting into trouble, I started rushing," Bergesen said. "My pitches got elevated and flattened out a little bit, and their guys just put good swings on them."

Wigginton willingly accepted the blame: "It's a play that needs to be made. That's one more error than a first baseman should make all year. I took [Bergesen] out of his rhythm."

The fifth inning would have been even worse for the Orioles had left fielder Reimold and right fielder Nick Markakis not thrown out runners at home plate.

"I've never seen guys thrown out at the plate twice in less than 30 seconds," Guillen said, laughing. "That's a world record."

Game notes
Dye has an 11-game hitting streak and is batting .410 with six homers and 19 RBIs over his last 21 games. ... Buehrle was the ninth straight left-handed starter the Orioles faced, tying a major league record. The 1980 Yankees had been the last team to do so. Baltimore, which went 4-5 during the stretch, is scheduled to face righty Jose Contreras in Sunday's series finale. Said Orioles manager Dave Trembley: "It's nonsense. Does anybody say anything when you face nine right-handers in a row?" ... Thome followed his two-homer, seven-RBI game with a double, a single and his 1,606th career walk, which moved him past Darrell Evans into 11th all-time.