Buehrle, burly offense

Chicago White SoxJobs and WorkplaceOzzie GuillenLuke ApplingCarlos LeeSportsAtlanta Braves

There's something about Mark Buehrle and White Sox batters, something that brings out the best in both.

On Sunday, Buehrle won his sixth straight decision dating to April 20, and the batters have supported his efforts during that time with an average of 9.46 runs.

So nothing much was surprising about the 10-3 victory over Atlanta, which sent the Sox back into first place in the AL Central Division on a sunny afternoon in front of 32,589 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.

Nothing much, unless you consider Jamie Burke's 15 minutes of fame squeezed into the 2-hour-18-minute game. The 32-year-old, third-string catcher and career minor-leaguer drove in three runs with three hits.

And he caught Buehrle.

"It's fun to catch him," Burke said. "He works fast, and his command is unbelievable."

As for his offense, Burke said: "Personally, it feels good, but to help the team means even more. It's fun to watch [the offense]. To get an opportunity to play is great."

Oh, that offense.

White Sox hitters have scored 10 or more runs a major-league-high 12 times, including four of the last five games and four times for Buehrle.

They have batted around in an inning 13 times this season, including the fifth inning Sunday.

Even though they ended a streak of scoring in nine straight innings over two days by getting blanked in the third, they have now scored at least one run in 13 of the last 15 innings.

And if you think Sox hitters aren't hot, consider this: The once-proud Atlanta pitching staff came to town with the National League's third-best ERA at 3.78 and left town with what would have been the league's eighth-best ERA, 3.97, at the start of the day.

The beat-up Braves are below .500 this late in the season for the first time since 1990—the year before they began an unprecedented string of division titles.

It started badly and got worse for the Braves on Sunday. Frank Thomas gave the Sox a 1-0 lead with his 434th career homer and 1,430th career RBI. The run batted in tied him for 52nd all time with Yogi Berra.

Joe Crede popped a two-run homer in the second inning, and Carlos Lee started a three-run rally in the fifth inning with one of his three hits.

Lee, who received a standing ovation in the first inning after his first hit, is now tied with Albert Belle and Luke Appling with a franchise-record streak of hits in 27 consecutive games.

"Before, he was getting one hit at a time," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Now he's getting two and three hits."

Asked when Lee would start feeling the pressure of the hitting streak, Guillen replied: "I don't know. I never had one. The best hitting streak I had was five.

"Mentally, you have to prepare yourself to just keep doing what you were doing. As soon as you start putting pressure on yourself, you push yourself to do something you don't want to do."

Said Lee: "I'm going one game at a time. If it's over the next day or the day after tomorrow, I don't care. If I end the streak with a bad day where I didn't give myself a chance, then I'll be mad."

While Buehrle (7-1) appreciates all the offensive help, he hasn't needed it all that much. His earned-run average during his winning streak is 2.59.

"I'm not going to complain," he said of the run support. "It makes my job easier to get a big lead."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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