Mark Buehrle limited Pittsburgh to two runs over seven innings and the White Sox ran the Pirates' record-tying losing streak to 12 games, quickly building a three-run lead before holding on for a 4-2 victory Tuesday night.
The Pirates' losing streak matches a 12-game slide in 1939 as their longest in baseball's modern era, which began in 1900. The only longer streak in franchise history was a 23-game slide in 1890, a season so bad that the club changed its name from the Pittsburg Alleghenies to the Pirates a year after going 23-113.
This time, the team with the second-best record in the majors met the one with the second-worst, and with a predictable result. The World Series champion White Sox led 3-0 before Pirates starter Ian Snell got out of the second inning, and never lost the lead in improving to 11-2 in interleague play.
"It's a little frustrating facing them," Snell said. "You have to battle against a team like that and it's hard. They do every little thing they need to win. They're perfect in almost every aspect. It's unreal."
Scott Podsednik, Tadahito Iguchi and Jim Thome singled to start the game, and A.J. Pierzynski followed with a one-out RBI single to make it 2-0. Pierzynski's base-running mistake may have cost the White Sox a bigger inning as he was caught between second and third following a single by Rob Mackowiak that loaded the bases, and Thome was subsequently tagged out at third during the ensuing rundown.
Despite that, Juan Uribe doubled to start the second and scored on Podsednik's sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. It was one of seven White Sox hits in the first two innings and 10 in five innings against Snell (7-5). At least he kept the White Sox in the park -- they failed to homer despite having a major league-best 111 this season.
Craig Wilson hit his 12th for the Pirates, a solo shot in the seventh. Joe Randa barely missed hitting another, a potential pinch-hit grand slam that left fielder Podsednik caught with his back to the wall to end the fifth.
"He missed by inches," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said, his voice reflecting the weariness the Pirates feel after going winless for two weeks. "We didn't do anything wrong. They just played a little better. When you're that good, when you've played on the stage they played on last year, they come to the ballpark knowing they're going to be almost perfect every night."
The Pirates had won four of five before their losing streak, prompting White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to say, "Even though those guys are struggling, I like what I see in those kids. They're going to be a pretty good ballclub soon."
But when? The Pirates must go 56-28 the rest of the way to avoid a 14th consecutive losing season.
"We do," Tracy said when asked if the Pirates need to find a way -- any way -- to win a game. "We need to try to get that stigma out of here."
Still, Buehrle was relieved he didn't have a letdown. He won his third in a row after losing two straight, giving up seven hits and two runs over seven innings despite striking out one.
"I don't like facing teams like this," he said. "It's like Kansas City, I'd rather be going against Boston or the Yankees. When you face this team, you're supposed to win and they're supposed to lose. That can be very hard and difficult because they have a good group of young players."
Brandon McCarthy pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Bobby Jenks finished up for his 23rd save in 24 chances. He has converted his last 14 save opportunities.
Chicago's Jermaine Dye, 2-for-18 coming into the game, went 3-for-5 with two doubles during a 15-hit White Sox night. Thome drove in two runs, adding a two-out RBI single in the ninth off John Grabow.
- The Pirates have gone eight consecutive games without a starting pitcher lasting six innings.
- White Sox OF Brian Anderson's five-game suspension for his role in a benches-clearing incident against the Cubs ended, but he didn't play.
- The Pirates are 7-18 in June and haven't won since beating the Cardinals 9-7 on June 14.