White Sox ace Mark Buehrle relies on his defense more than his offense.
Saturday night, he received no help.
A botched rundown—the second fundamental miscue in as many games—led the way to a three-run second inning and the previously unheralded Andy Sonnanstine limited the White Sox to three hits in a complete-game 5-0 shutout.
"That was a fast butt-kicking," manager Ozzie Guillen said after Tampa Bay beat the Sox in two hours, two minutes—the fastest game in the 11-year history of Tropicana Field.
The Sox were blanked for the first time this season and didn't put a runner in scoring position after the first inning.
Meanwhile, the 12 hits were the most Buehrle has allowed since he surrendered 14 against Detroit on July 23.
Yet it was a rundown blunder that magnified Buehrle's outing because of the Rays' four consecutive hits after the mistake and the Sox's lack of offense. Friday night the Sox had overcome a botched rundown in the second inning to cruise to a 9-2 victory.
"When you're in a rundown, you can't play hot potato out there," Guillen said. "You have to make the guy run as hard as he can, and then give up the ball. That's the only way you're going to do it.
"I have a veteran infield. I'm not going to criticize my players just because they make mistakes. But two days in a row is kind of weird."
Buehrle had picked Jonny Gomes off first base for what was going to be the final out of the inning. Second baseman Juan Uribe took a rundown throw and chased Gomes toward second base. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera took the throw from Uribe but missed the tag on Gomes.
"I don't think there's a method to the madness in a rundown," Gomes said. "I just wanted to stay in the middle."
The Rays followed with four consecutive hits to take a 3-0 lead. But the blown play illustrated Buehrle's reliance on airtight defense. He has allowed 35 hits in 232/3 innings while striking out 11.
"It's frustrating," Buehrle said. "For a guy like me who gets hit and has guys put balls in play, I need every out. I need the defense behind me. It happens, but I need to make better pitches to get them out."
The Sox were complementary toward Sonnanstine, 25, who was making his 25th career major-league start and had been tagged for seven runs on nine hits in 31/3 innings against the New York Yankees in his last start.
"We have no excuses," Nick Swisher said. "We just didn't have our rhythm tonight. But you tip your hat. [Sonnanstine] pitched a great game and shut us down."
Because of the loss, Guillen plans to field his regular lineup in Sunday's series finale except first baseman Paul Konerko, who is 4-for-32.
"I want to make sure he gets his mind clear and he gets on track when we get back to Chicago," Guillen said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun