With two starts left, Buehrle could still win 20

CHICAGO (AP) -- Not bad for a 38th-round draft pick.

Mark Buehrle got his 18th win Tuesday night, scattering six hits
over seven innings to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 6-1 victory
over the Kansas City Royals.

With two starts left, he's got a shot at becoming the White
Sox's first 20-game winner since Jack McDowell in 1993.

''I'd like to get it,'' said Buehrle, who's become the White Sox
ace after being picked late in 1998 amateur draft.

''Twenty wins is a good goal to reach. Not many pitchers get to
20 wins in a season.''

Buehrle (18-11) has already reached one milestone, becoming the
first Chicago lefty to win 18 since 1985, when Britt Burns went

''This kid is showing everybody he is a good pitcher,'' Royals
manager Tony Pena said.

Getting some run support helps, too. Frank Thomas and Magglio
Ordonez hit back-to-back solo home runs, and Ordonez drove in
another run. Mark Johnson also homered as the White Sox pulled
within one game of .500.

Mike Sweeney's solo homer was the only offense for the Royals,
who have lost 15 of their last 20 games.

Though he's only in his second full season in the majors,
Buehrle has developed into one of the AL's best pitchers. He won 12
games in the first half, and was named to his first All-Star team.

But he's trailed off in the second half, winning just six games.
After getting victory No. 17 on Sept. 1, he lost his last two

''It's my fault if I don't get to 20 wins,'' Buehrle said.
''I've got nobody to blame but myself. I had too many chances.''

If he pitches like he did Tuesday night in his last two starts,
he might still get to 20.

Kansas City had a runner in scoring position just three times,
and he allowed only one extra-base hit besides Sweeney's homer, a
ground-rule double to Joe Randa. After Sweeney's leadoff homer in
the fourth, Buehrle retired five of his next six batters.

He gave up one run on the six hits, striking out three while
walking one. He also had a balk.

''Some pitches weren't working for me the last couple of starts.
Today, everything was working,'' Buehrle said. ''I'm not trying to
change anything knowing 20 is right around the corner.

Keith Foulke pitched two innings for his 10th save -- and first
since June 27.

''It's nice to be able to get that save. It's been a long
time,'' said Foulke, who is third on the White Sox all-time list
with 99 career saves.

Miguel Asencio (3-7) gave up two runs -- one earned -- and five
hits in five innings. He walked four while striking out only one.

''If he can get command on his pitches, he can pitch seven or
eight innings every single time,'' Pena said. ''When he got into
trouble, he did make some good pitches.''

Sweeney's homer in the fourth inning gave the Royals a 1-0 lead,
but Buehrle's teammates quickly bailed him out. After Neifi Perez's
error gave the White Sox runners at first and second, Aaron Rowand
beat out a bunt single to load the bases.

One out later, Asencio walked Johnson to force in a run.

The White Sox broke the game open with two runs each in the
seventh and eighth. With one out in the seventh, Thomas sent an 0-2
pitch from Shawn Sedlacek into the left-field stands, drawing a
standing ovation from the crowd of 12,003.

The fans were on their feet again a few seconds later as Ordonez
followed with another homer. It was his 33rd of the year, a career

Johnson homered in the eighth and Ordonez added an RBI double to
assure Buehrle of his 18th win.

''If you've got a chance to play ball, it doesn't matter where
you were drafted,'' Buehrle said. ''As long as a team gives you a
chance, just go out and do the best you can to achieve your goal of
pitching in the big leagues.''

Game notes
Kansas City C Brent Mayne was ejected in the top of the
fourth inning for arguing with plate umpire Jerry Crawford. Mayne
sprinted out of the dugout as the Royals got ready to bat and had
to be restrained by Pena. ''I didn't say anything at all. Not one
word,'' Mayne said. ''He was staring at me. He shrugged at me and I
just shrugged at him and got kicked out.'' ... Of Thomas' 25 home
runs, 21 have come at Comiskey Park. ... The White Sox haven't been
.500 since June 20. ... White Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard
replaced 700 square yards of grass in center field after Friday
night's Rolling Stones concert.