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Bats can't muster spark vs. Buehrle

Chicago homers deflate Bucs' sails

CHICAGO -- As Xavier Nady, who remains out with a left shoulder injury, walked through the visiting clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field after the Pirates' 8-2 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday, he stopped briefly for a moment, before heading back into the trainer's room.

"Not much to write about tonight," he said, grinning.

That would be only partially accurate.

In terms of the Pittsburgh offense, Nady's quip summed up the lack of intrigue. But from a more neutral viewpoint, plenty could be said for the showcase Chicago starter Mark Buehrle put up for his South Side club.

Exactly how dominant was Buehrle?

"We were just looking to get a hit at one point," Jason Bay answered.

There was no exaggeration there. Held hitless through five innings, the Pittsburgh offense had a much-lamented front seat to one of the best performances they have seen from an opposing pitcher this season.

It was classic Buehrle, too. As is his trademark, the Chicago left-hander was working at a frenzied pace, mixing up speeds and locations with ease. His efficiency was notable as well, with a pitch count at just 54 through the first five.

"That's not the first time I've seen that [from him]," Jose Bautista later said. "That's what he's doing when he's going good."

Added manager John Russell: "If you look at it, pretty much everything was going his way. He did a great job of setting them down."

Any wonderment that the Pirates might be no-hit for the first time since 1971 ceased when Bautista lifted Buehrle's first-pitch changeup in the sixth and dumped it over the left-field wall. The homer, which was Bautista's second of the series, and third in four games, closed in on Chicago's 3-0 lead.

From there, though, the offensive production would be minimal. A Luis Rivas single in the eighth drove in the Pirates' other run of the night, one in which the Pirates would connect for just five hits. Aside from Bautista's homer, the rest of those hits were singles.

"I think, sometimes if you let [Buehrle] get into a rhythm like he did tonight, that's his game and allows him to do what he wants to do," Bay said. "That's definitely a part of his game and it worked tonight."

As a result, by game's end, it had been a little dose of déjà vu for the Bucs.

Yes, the six-run loss was more respectable than the 11-run defeat one night earlier. But in terms of how the Pirates' fourth loss in five Interleague games came about, it was much the same.

For the second night in a row, the Pirates watched a manageable mid-game deficit morph into a Chicago runaway win. Furthermore, Pirates pitchers watched Chicago hitters step up to the plate and launch balls over the outfield wall with batting-practice-type ease.

And when it comes to the results the Pirates have had in the Windy City and in Interleague Play, well, Wednesday's result unfortunately fit the bill.

After now losing each of the first two games against the White Sox, the Pirates are a dismal 1-7 in the Windy City this season. They also dropped to 2-12 in their last 14 games played in American League parks.

For Tom Gorzelanny, Wednesday's stage was one of the more anticipated for the young lefty starter. He'd be making his debut against a White Sox team that he grew up rooting for, and he'd be doing so against a loud contingent of family and friends in the stands.

Pitching against a White Sox club that leads the American League in homers, and playing in a ballpark very much conducive to hitting them, Gorzelanny's outing would be marred by three Chicago home runs.

"Bad pitches," Gorzelanny said. "I paid for it."

That was true of fastballs left up to both catcher Toby Hall and outfielder Carlos Quentin.

Those long balls would account for all four of the runs the White Sox scored off the lefty, while also upping the number of homers allowed by Pirates pitching on this road trip to 13.

It also pushed the total number of homers that Gorzelanny has allowed in three Windy City starts this season to eight. He is now 0-3 with an 11.05 ERA in Chicago this year.

Still, all in all, Gorzelanny's performance wasn't entirely scarred. In a season where command has often been elusive, Gorzelanny kept his pitches low with notable efficiency. And though he issued four walks, he also struck out four in six innings of work.

"That's the most consistent I've seen it down in the zone a while and that's a good thing for him," Russell said.

And now with a string of four consecutive starts in which he has pitched at least into the sixth inning, Gorzelanny's assessment of his performance was much the same.

"I felt like I did a good job," said Gorzelanny, who dropped to 5-6 on the season. "I felt like I was in the zone more than usual."

Though Gorzelanny handed a not-so-daunting 4-1 deficit over to the bullpen, that margin would widen considerably and quickly. A three-spot put up by Chicago against right-handed reliever Tyler Yates in the seventh ultimately put this one out of reach, while on the other side, Buehrle continued to deal.

Those marked the first runs allowed by Yates in his last eight starts. Fortunately, however, the rest of the Bucs 'pen was treated to a much needed night off.

"If we can continue being consistent with our starting pitching, it will take a lot of heat off all our guys," Russell said. "Now that we've had a few games where we've had some rest, we should be OK for the next few games."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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