With their earned-run average threatening to rise above 4.00, two veteran White Sox starters helped with some zeros.
Following Javier Vazquez's eight shutout innings Tuesday night, Mark Buehrle added seven of his own Wednesday night as the Sox crowned the Royals 4-0 to stay a half-game ahead of Minnesota in the American League Central.
Pitching on National Left-Handers Day, Buehrle limited the Royals to five hits while walking none after being staked to a two-run lead in the first inning.
"I keep saying it's all about pitching," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "If your pitching holds on and your pitching does what it's supposed to do and we make the plays, the offense is going to be there.
"Everybody's offense, especially in the American League, is going to be there. I'm just being realistic. If the pitching's not there, then no matter what kind of ballclub anybody has, they're going to suffer.
"Every inning and every pitch counts. Everyone on the mound has to try to get all the zeros they can get because I want to use the least guys I can use to keep them fresh all year long."
Buehrle, who had won only once in his previous three starts, has allowed only one run in his last two outings covering 14 innings. He retired the last 12 batters he faced Wednesday.
The Sox gave Buehrle a 2-0 lead in the first, although they left two more runners stranded.
Leadoff hitter Orlando Cabrera started with an infield single, and A.J. Pierzynski sacrificed him to second. He scored on a Jermaine Dye double. Dye then scored on Ken Griffey Jr.'s single, but Griffey and Paul Konerko (walk) were left on base when Nick Swisher flied out.
After a sharp first inning, Buehrle ran into some trouble, leaving two runners on base in the second and third innings.
He was spared runs in the second when Griffey made a diving catch in center field and Juan Uribe made a backhanded stab of John Buck's smash at third base. In the third, Buehrle struck out David DeJesus and Jose Guillen.
Rookie Chris Getz, starting at second base to give Alexei Ramirez a rest, helped ignite a fifth-inning rally with a hit-and-run single that got Uribe to third base. Uribe scored on Pierzynski's groundout, giving Buehrle a 3-0 lead.
"I think 'The Missile' (Ramirez) needs a day off mentally," Guillen said. "This kid's been playing every day. We brought Getz to help, and maybe I'll give Cabrera a day off in the next couple of days. Right now, I think people need a day off, at least to recover.
"It's going to be a long, tough year and everyone needs to be 100 percent."
The Sox offense went hitless from the second through the fourth innings and again in the sixth and seventh innings against Royals starter Luke Hochevar, who lost to the Sox in Kansas City on Aug. 1.
But they added an insurance run in the eighth, a rally again started with a Cabrera single. Pierzynski forced Cabrera at second but scored on Konerko's two-out single.
Buehrle settled down after the third inning, not allowing another hit following a leadoff single by Billy Butler in the fourth inning. But he had thrown 101 pitches through seven innings.
Octavio Dotel came on for a perfect eighth inning and Bobby Jenks pitched the ninth, although he was not credited with a save.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun