PITTSBURGH -- Put an interleague game on the schedule, and there's no better pitcher than Mark Buehrle.
Especially when he's opposing a team like the Pirates, who couldn't be playing much worse.Buehrle allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings to become the winningest pitcher since interleague play began, and the White Sox ran the Pirates' losing streak to 11 games by holding on to win 5-4 Thursday night.Buehrle's 22 victories since interleague play began in 1997 top the 21 each by Mike Mussina and Jamie Moyer. Buehrle's 22-6 record and .786 winning percentage are easily the best of the five pitchers who have won at least 20 games against the opposing league."I think it's to my advantage when I don't see teams too often," Buehrle said. "I have faced some hitters 80-100 times in my career, so it's kind of like what do you try to do to trick them? I think when you see teams and hitters only every two or three years, it's to my advantage."Buehrle (5-6) was in control until being pulled with the White Sox leading 5-1 in the eighth, when the Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge had RBI singles as the Pirates scored three times against three pitchers.Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates' much-awaited rookie who made his major league debut Wednesday, struck out for the third time with runners on first and third to end the comeback. Alvarez went hitless in four at-bats, also grounding into a double play after the Pirates put two on with one out while trailing 3-0 in the fourth.Alvarez received the first boos of his big league career after his final strikeout, although the fans appeared to be reacting to the missed opportunity and the losing streak rather than to him."I didn't hear it," said Alvarez, who was matched against left-hander Matt Thornton in the eighth after going hitless in three at-bats against Buehrle. "I'm starting my career facing some of the best pitching in the league, and I'm still optimistic."Some Pirates players thought the boos for Alvarez were a bit much, even with the Pirates stuck in their second-longest losing streak in 55 years. The 2006 team lost 13 in a row.With Bobby Jenks pitching the ninth inning for his 13th save in 14 opportunities, the White Sox swept the three-game series and won their seventh in eight games. Left fielder Juan Pierre made an excellent sliding catch of pinch hitter Delwyn Young's drive down the line with one out in the ninth.Buehrle wasn't scheduled to start against the Pirates despite his 4-0 record in five starts against them, but he was moved up a night because of Jake Peavy's sore shoulder. Buehrle gave up six hits."A lot of people will say, 'Well, you played Pittsburgh,'" manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It doesn't matter. We've got to compete no matter what kind of ballclub we see."Carlos Quentin, extending his offensive surge, had a pair of doubles and drove in a run against Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf (0-5), who is winless in 13 starts since Aug. 18. Ohlendorf gave up five runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings, including Quentin's RBI double during a two-run third inning and Pierre's RBI triple in a two-run seventh."I wish I had been able to pitch better because our offense did a great job of coming back and making a game of it," Ohlendorf said.Quentin boosted his average from .201 to .213 by getting four hits and driving in three runs during the final two games of the series.Gordon Beckham, who began the series with a .204 average, had a sacrifice fly in the second for his fourth RBI of the series and doubled to start the seventh.Pittsburgh's latest loss occurred a few hours after team president Frank Coonelly revealed that the club had extended general manager Neal Huntington's contract through 2011 and picked up manager John Russell's option for 2011 during the offseason.
The Pirates are winless since June 5 and are 2-12 this month. ... The 1955 Pirates also lost 11 in a row from May 11-22. ... The Pirates didn't commit an error after having more errors (six) than hits (five) during a 7-2 loss on Wednesday. ... The White Sox hadn't swept a three-game road series since June 29-July 1 in Cleveland. They didn't homer in the series. ... Chicago has won 23 of its past 31 interleague games.