"You see him coming in with an 0-2 (record) and a 5 (ERA) and you wonder, 'How? How's that possible?"' Buehrle said Friday night after he outpitched Santana to help the Chicago White Sox beat the Twins 7-1.
"That guy to me is the best pitcher in baseball," Buerhle added. "For us to go out and get a couple of runs like we did. ... Last year he was dominating. Any time you get two runs like that, it's huge."
The game was scoreless until the sixth when Jim Thome hit a two-run homer off Santana, who is still winless in four starts this season.
"The last thing you think about against that guy is hitting a home run," Thome said. "That guy can pitch."
So can Buerhle.
Buehrle (3-0) allowed four hits over eight innings to get his third straight victory as the defending World Series champions won their sixth straight and their 10th in the last 11 games. He lost his shutout when Lew Ford hit a two-out homer in the eighth.
Thome's homer was his eighth of the season and came on a 3-1 pitch after he'd struck out in his first two at-bats against Santana.
"I don't think it was one pitch, it was one swing. I threw a good pitch and Thome's a great hitter," Santana said.
"He's very strong. He just made contact and just like that the ball was gone. It was a good piece of hitting."
The White Sox were finally able to beat Santana (0-3) for the first time in nearly two years.
Santana dominated the White Sox in 2005, going 4-0 in five starts with a 0.92 ERA. He was 6-0 against Chicago in his previous seven starts and had not lost to the White Sox since July 1, 2004.
And he was tough again Friday night, changing speeds and overpowering Chicago hitters at times before Thome connected.
"Going against a guy like Santana, you know you can't give up too many runs or you don't have a chance," Buerhle said. "You try to match him, throw zeros like he is."
Santana threw 120 pitches in seven innings, allowing five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
"Buehrle did a great job," Santana said. "I felt good. I felt like the all was coming out pretty good. My pitches were there."
The White Sox scored five in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to a wild relay throw from Twins shortstop Juan Castro. Thome and Paul Konerko singled off Juan Rincon, and Jermaine Dye's double to left-center scored pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna. Konerko was held at third, but Castro's throw landed in Chicago's dugout, allowing both Konerko and Dye to score and make it 5-1.
"I saw Konerko a little bit off the bag. I wanted to surprise him a little bit, but when I went to throw it I didn't get a good grip," Castro said. "The ball slipped out of my hand and it just happened."
Dye's single and Anderson's broken-bat blooper were the White Sox's only two hits through five innings.
Buehrle, whose 16-9 career record against the Twins represents his most wins against any opponent, retired the first 10 batters before Nick Punto singled to right in the fourth. Tony Batista singled in the fifth for Minnesota's second hit.
- Thome has scored a run in all 16 of the White Sox's games. That's the longest streak ever to start out a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
- Thome is now 2-for-12 in his career against Santana and both hits have been homers.
- White was out of the DH role and in left field. Shannon Stewart had left the game to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter Thursday. Second baseman Luis Castillo didn't play either because of a sore right knee that forced him to leave Thursday's game early.
- The first 4 1/2 innings took only 62 minutes to play.
- Attendance was announced at 31,287. There were also 325 dogs in attendance for the White Sox's 11th annual Dog Day.