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Sox sweat out major slugfest
When he got the final out of the third inning, White Sox starter Mark Buehrle threw his hands up in the air in mock celebration. First baseman Paul Konerko asked him if he wanted the ball.
Buehrle had retired the side in order, which doesn't normally seem like such a big deal. But with baseballs flying around U.S. Cellular Field like super balls in a bathtub, setting down three straight hitters in a row indeed was cause for celebration.
It took Philadelphia Phillies pitchers six innings before they could retire the Sox in a frame without giving up a run in a 14-11 victory before a sweltering crowd of 33,114.
After giving up six runs and eight hits in the first two innings, Buehrle allowed just one hit and one walk over the next five innings to improve to 6-1.
"I never pitched in Colorado, but if this is what it feels like, I'm never going to pitch there," Buehrle said.
"Outstanding," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Buehrle's effort. "I didn't expect him to give up eight hits in the first two innings and then turn it around like that."
As is the custom with Buehrle pitching, the Sox offense started hitting early and never stopped on the first hot night of the seasonthe game-time temperature was 91 degreeswith a steady breeze blowing out of left field.
After Jim Thome's laser-beam, three-run home run gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the Sox came back with six of their own.
They hit three home runs in the first inning, a two-run shot by Juan Uribe and solos from Carlos Leeextending his hitting streak to 23 games with his first home run since April 27and Konerko.
The six runs, three home runs and six hits, including a two-run double from catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., chased Phillies starter Ryan Madson, who was starting in place of the injured Randy Wolf.
The Phillies matched the Sox in the second, scoring three of their own on five hits off Buehrle.
But once Buehrle calmed down, the Sox kept slugging away, scoring in every inning until tuckering out in the sixth. They added one final run in the eighth.
With the exception of his last outing, last Wednesday in Oakland, the Sox have scored at least eight runs in five of Buehrle's last six starts.
In the second, Uribe and Frank Thomas hit back-to-back home runs to make it 8-6. After struggling through a 2-for-21 road trip, Uribe had two home runs and a double. Thomas added two doubles and three more RBIs. His first double was the 441st of his career, moving him ahead of Luke Appling and into first place on the Sox all-time list.
It appeared Guillen would be spared having to make a decision on who would close out a tight game.
Mike Jackson entered the game in relief of Buehrle in the eighth with a 13-6 lead. But he gave up a pair of runs in the eighth and three in the ninth on another three-run home run by Thome.
"I know what kind of offense [the Phillies] have," said Guillen, who saw the Phillies up close many times last season as third-base coach of the Florida Marlins. "We were up six runs and I was still sweating."
And it wasn't because of the heat and humidity.
Guillen went to Cliff Politte with no outs in the ninth and a 14-11 Sox lead. In his first save opportunity of the seasonand with Shingo Takatsu and Damaso Marte throwing just in casePolitte retired the next three to nail down the victory.
Guillen said if someone had reached against Politte, he was ready to play match-up with Marte and Takatsu. Politte saved him the trouble.
"It was really important, not just for me but the team," said Politte, who struggled in the closer's role last season in Toronto.
"When I was warming up, I only saw 14-8," Politte said. "I wasn't aware of the situation until I was on the field."
Maybe that's the way to solve the Sox's closer problemdon't tell them the score.