CHICAGO --The way Mark Buehrle had been pitching, this looked like a mismatch. It turned out to be just that, only with a twist his team welcomed.
"It's the Mark we've seen most of the time," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
But not lately.
The AL Central leaders saw the Buehrle of old and hung on after Dustin Pedroia hit a three-run homer off Octavio Dotel in the eighth. Carlos Quentin led off the bottom half with his AL-leading 31st homer off Manny Delcarmen and his second in as many games, while Bobby Jenks pitched a scoreless ninth for his 23rd save in 26 chances.
The Red Sox embarrassed the White Sox the last time they met, outscoring them 46-7 while taking four games at U.S. Cellular Field last Aug. 24-26. It was a different story this time.
Lester (10-4) suffered his first loss since May 25 after going 7-0 in his previous 11 starts. He allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings.
"I threw the ball a lot better than the linescore said," Lester said. "I just really got outpitched. There's nothing really more to say."
The Red Sox had won five of six but couldn't get anything going against Buehrle (9-10), who allowed just four hits and tied a season-high with eight strikeouts while walking two after losing his previous two starts. It was a sharp contrast from last week's outing at Kansas City, where he allowed eight runs and 14 hits -- tying and setting season-highs -- over 4 1/3 innings in sweltering heat.
"That last start, I was trying to get out alive," he said. "I didn't care if I gave up 100 runs that game; I was so beat out there. I was so exhausted out there."
This time, he left to a standing ovation with the White Sox leading 4-0 after Jason Varitek led off the eighth with a single, but the cheers quickly turned to groans as the Red Sox came charging back against Dotel.
He walked J.D. Drew with one out, and Pedroia made it a one-run game when he drove a 2-2 pitch to the left-field bullpen for his 10th homer.
Matt Thornton came in and retired David Ortiz on a grounder to second. D.J. Carrasco then walked Kevin Youkilis and fell behind 2-0 to Mike Lowell before he fouled out to the catcher, ending the rally, and the White Sox hung on to remain a half-game ahead of Minnesota in the division.
"He was attacking the zone with like nine pitches, it seemed like," Pedroia said. "He was tough, man."
Lester gave up a sacrifice fly to A.J. Pierzynski in the third and a two-run double by Orlando Cabrera in the fifth, making it 3-0. The White Sox got another run in the seventh when Pierzynski got caught in a rundown heading to second after knocking a single off the right-field wall, allowing Cabrera to score from first with two out.
"I think A.J. was not hustling on the play," Guillen said. "He hit the ball and pretty much thought it was out of play."
He did credit Pierzynski for a nice recovery, though.
"When I hit it and Drew caught it, I didn't know where it went," Pierzynski said. "I thought it kicked away from him. ... Just trying to make something positive here, hoping we can get a run to score. O.C. did a good job reading the throws."
- White Sox sent right-handed reliever Ehren Wasserman to Triple-A Charlotte after Friday's 5-3 win over the Boston Red Sox to make room for Jose Contreras. Contreras, on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow tendinitis, is expected to start Saturday's game. The right-hander has not pitched since July 13 and is 7-6 with a 4.60 ERA.
- Boston's Youkilis, who left Wednesday's game after being in the right hand by a pitch in the first inning, started at first base and batted fourth.
- The Red Sox had won 15 of 20 at U.S. Cellular Field since the start of the 2003 season.