Magic number for Buehrle: 1

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White Sox manager Jerry Manuel uses the term "pitchability."

He defines it as "an ability to put something on or off pitches and read a batter's last swing. Rated from 1 to 10 on pitchability, Mark Buehrle is a 10."

Buehrle (19-11) showcased some of these traits Sunday night when he beat the Minnesota Twins 8-2 as the Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Central Division champs.

"I didn't have my best stuff," Buehrle said. "My sinker wasn't working, but my team scored a lot of runs for me, as they've done when I pitched against the Twins this year."

Buehrle still had some good stuff. Fifteen of his 106 pitches were swinging strikes. However, the Twins hit him hard, collecting nine hits in his six innings.

"Those strikes came because I was around the plate," Buehrle said. "I try to let them know early that I'll throw strikes all game, so they may swing at some that are a little off the plate."

The Sox backed Buehrle afield with three double plays and at bat with seven runs in the first four innings and three home runs for the night, setting a club record of 126 home runs at home in a season.

"It always helps to have a great defense behind you," Buehrle said. "I work fast to keep the guys on defense on their toes."

Frank Thomas had three RBIs and hit his 27th homer. D'Angelo Jimenez hit a three-run homer in the fourth, his first as a Sox. Magglio Ordonez hit his 36th in the eighth.

Buehrle will make his final start of the season Saturday in Minnesota, where he will try to become the first Sox pitcher to win 20 since Jack McDowell won 22 in 1993. He also is trying to become the first Sox lefty to win 20 since 1975, when Jim Kaat went 20-14.

Manuel likes Buehrle's toughness. That's why Manuel said Sunday that the pitcher Buehrle most reminds him of is former Expos and current Giants lefty Kirk Rueter.

"Rueter was batting one game in Atlanta, and he dislocated his shoulder," Manuel said. "He pitched the rest of the game."

The Sox hit Joe Mays (4-8) early. Thomas crushed a 430-foot homer to dead center and scored behind Jimenez, who had singled, to put the Sox ahead 2-0 in the first inning.

After the Twins trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the second, Jeff Liefer doubled and scored on Aaron Rowand's sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. In the third, Jose Valentin walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Thomas' single to make it 4-1.

In the fourth, Joe Crede and Rowand singled, Jimenez homered and the Twins trailed 7-1.

Manuel couldn't find enough nice things to say about Buehrle.

"He's one of our real leaders," he said. "I'll ask him different questions about the players to get a pulse on the team. He treats everybody the same. He's a model as a pitcher, a person or a teammate."

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