Kansas City, Mo. Mark Buehrle had more trouble getting out of the way of balls hit up the middle than with the Kansas City hitters.
Buehrle pitched eight strong innings, and Joe Crede drove in two runs as the Chicago White Sox defeated the Royals, 3-1, Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak.
Buehrle was struck in the right triceps by Reggie Sanders' comebacker to end the fourth, and Shane Costa's grounder ricocheted off the pitcher's right leg in the sixth.
"My leg cramped up in the eighth inning," Buehrle said. "It was like getting an elbow to the knee. I wanted to go back out and finish it, but it was best to let the bullpen finish it."
Buehrle (1-0) gave up just six singles, walked one and struck out one. The Royals did not have a runner reach second base until the seventh inning.
"My velocity was back up, which I was happy to see that," Buehrle said. "I was getting ground balls, which was nice to see."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was happy to see a well pitched game after his club had a 6.20 ERA in the first six games.
"He's my ace," Guillen said. "He's been doing that for a long time. When things are going tough, he came up big. I've got a lot of confidence in him. Hopefully, the rest of my starters will follow him. Buehrle stepped up big today."
The White Sox took a 2-0 lead in the second. Jermaine Dye walked with one out and advanced to third on A.J. Pierzynski's single to center. Crede's broken-bat double to left scored both.
Jim Thome homered deep into the left-field seats with two out in the eighth inning off Scott Elarton (0-2). It was the third of the season for Thome, the only White Sox player to homer.
Bobby Jenks gave up a one-out homer to Reggie Sanders in the ninth, but finished up for his first save.
Buehrle did not allow a hit until Mark Teahen's grounder to center field with two outs in the fifth. The only other baserunner the Royals had in the first five innings was Emil Brown reaching first on Tadahito Iguchi's fielding error in the second inning.
Chicago avoided its first 1-5 start since 2001 as Buehrle improved to 13-6 against the Royals. He has more wins, 15, against only Minnesota.
The Royals had two singles in the sixth, but were victimized by sloppy baserunning. Tony Graffanino was thrown out by Scott Podsednik trying to stretch a hit into a double. Mark Grudzielanek singled, but Buehrle promptly picked him off to end the inning. Buehrle has picked off 38 runners, including a league-leading 10 in 2004.
"That was huge especially with (Mike) Sweeney on deck. He's hit me pretty well," Buehrle said. "That's why I kind of gave a little fist pump after I picked him off. If you make a mistake to Sweeney, he's going to hit the ball out of the park and it would be a tie game. That is one of the big points of the game."
Royals manager Buddy Bell was ejected in the ninth inning after arguing an out call on Sweeney's liner to third baseman Crede. The ball popped out of Crede's glove and third base umpire Bruce Froemming initially ruled Sweeney safe. However, the umpires huddled and Sweeney was called out, drawing Bell from the dugout.
"My perspective on that was I don't think the call was made correctly," Bell said. "My perspective was if it's a catch, the ball would have stayed in his glove. It's pretty elementary for me. He (plate umpire Mike Winters) called me nuts. It's not the first time I've been called that."
Said Crede, "It was a catch bottom line. I caught it in the air. I fell down and still had it in my glove and I was going to show it to him as a courtesy to the umpire behind me."
Sanders followed with his solo homer to center.
Sanders and Brown singled in the seventh, but Angel Berroa grounded into a double play to end the Royals' threat.
In the eighth, John Buck walked and Shane Costa singled, but Buehrle retired Graffanino and Grudzielanek on fielder's choice grounders to end the inning.
Elarton allowed three runs and five hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out four.
"I don't care if we are scoring runs, two losses is still two losses," Elarton said. "I'd rather win 6-5 or 10-9 and come out a winner."