Mark Buehrle and Paul Konerko pulled off classic performances, and they were sorely needed.
Buehrle threw 6 2/3 shutout innings and Konerko pulled off his second two-homer game of the year. In the process, they brought both a five-game losing streak and a seven-game home losing streak to their ends. Buehrle picked up his 150th career victory in the process.
Most of it wasn't pretty. Buehrle didn't have a single 1-2-3 inning -- and even when he had one, he didn't. He should have retired the side in order in the seventh, but Brian O'Nora erroneously ruled Derrek Lee safe on a bang-bang play at first. Alexei Ramirez made one of his classic plays in the hole, but received no credit for it.
Otherwise, he allowed multiple baserunners in five of his first six innings, but none of them scored. Buehrle got a couple double-play balls, and Juan Pierre bailed him out of another jam. With runners on the corners and two outs in the fourth, Brian Roberts hit a drive down the left-field line. It hung up long enough for Pierre to reach it with a diving catch on the dirt near the sidewall, ending the inning.
I'd say Buehrle owes Pierre a dinner, but this would probably be his 151st victory had Pierre not dropped a fly against Oakland. Now they're even.
The rest of the support rolled in gradually. The Sox spotted him a rare early run in the second with some ... execution. Alex Rios singled to lead off the inning, and appeared rooted there until the customary two-out stolen base attempt. Matt Wieters double-clutched, and it allowed Rios to slide in safely. That turned out to be huge, because Pierre dropped a single in front of Adam Jones for a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Konerko doubled the margin with a towering drive that cut through the cold wind and landed in the White Sox bullpen. Two runs, both with two outs. Weird.
Luke Scott robbed Konerko from doing more damage in the sixth. Jeremy Guthrie loaded the bases with an infield single and two walks, setting the stage for Konerko, who was ready to swing. He ripped the first pitch foul, and then tried for the White Sox bullpen again. The wind held it up long enough for Luke Scott to make a sliding catch. Still, it brought in a run for a 3-0 White Sox lead.
Longball worked the rest of the way. Rios added a solo shot in the seventh, and Konerko made it a two-fer with a no-doubt two-run shot in the eighth.
It should have set the stage for an easy victory, but Chris Sale had other ideas. Sale had problems throwing strikes that weren't grooved. He went full to the first three batters - he got a strikeout and a groundout on the first two, but his 3-2 pitch to Nick Markakis hit Markakis' "hand." The replay showed it hit the knob of the bat, but Markakis sold it well, heading off the field and into the trainer's room, briefly.
That ignited an Orioles resurgence. Sale fell behind Lee 3-1, and then spoiled the shutout when Lee hit Sale's grooved fastball just over the fence in right-field. A single and a walk later, Ozzie Guillen had to call for Sergio Santos.
Santos, too, fell behind Adam Jones 2-0. But he came back with two strikes, and Jones swung at a slider in the dirt for a merciful ending. He picked up the save and left the tying run on deck.
*Buehrle allowed 12 baserunners (eight hits, four walks), but only threw 107 pitches. Especially compared to Sale, who threw only 15 of his 34 pitches for strikes.
*Jesse Crain was the opposite of Sale. He picked up the last out of the seventh and struck out three over a scoreless 1 1/3. He threw 20 of 25 pitches for strikes.
*While Rios stole second safely, Gordon Beckham and Pierre were both gunned down by Wieters.