Buehrle Could Snap Slump

With a punchless offense, winning has been seldom for the slumping Chicago White Sox.

The White Sox try to avoid losing their seventh straight road game for the first time in more than six years when they play the middle game of their three-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.

Oddsmakers have made Chicago -135 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 91% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -135 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Chicago (27-36) lost Friday's series opener 4-2 to drop its fourth straight, and ninth in 10 games.

The White Sox offense, which boasts sluggers Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye, has scored the fewest runs in the majors (241) and has the majors' worst batting average (.231). In their last nine losses, they have scored only 20 runs, while batting .213.

"That's the way were going right now," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It's kind of getting old seeing this day-in and day-out."

Chicago was only 4 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central on May 26, but it has fallen 10 1/2 games back of first-place Cleveland after losing 16 of its last 19 games. The White Sox have dropped nine games below .500 for the first time since Aug. 26, 2002.

Playing away from U.S. Cellular has been particularly rough on Chicago, as it has lost 10 of its last 11 on the road. It has not lost seven straight road games since dropping eight in a row May 15-23, 2001.

Mark Buehrle (3-3, 3.69 ERA) earned the victory in Chicago's last win, and he makes his first start as a 100-game winner on Saturday.

After failing to get to the century mark in his last seven attempts, Buehrle allowed one run and six hits in eight innings of a 6-3 victory over Houston on Sunday. He had gone 0-3 with a 4.73 ERA since defeating Kansas City to win his 99th game on April 23.

"Hopefully, for 101, we don't have to wait two months," Guillen said.

The left-hander tries to win consecutive starts, and continue his success against the NL. In eight interleague starts since the start of the 2005 season, Buehrle is 5-1 with a 3.03 ERA, allowing two runs or less in five of those games.

In his only career start against the Pirates, Buehrle won by giving up two runs in seven innings of a 4-2 victory last June 27 at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh (29-38) has won three of four during a six-game interleague homestand.

Jose Bautista drove in two runs on Friday, and is batting .429 (9-for-21) with nine RBIs in his last five games.

"I'm seeing the ball well, just trying to put the barrel on the ball as much as possible," Bautista said. "I happened to manage to do it twice tonight and at the right time."

John Van Benschoten makes his first start in nearly three years when he takes the mound for the Pirates.

Van Benschoten is taking the place in the rotation of Shawn Chacon, who has switched to a relief role to help the Pirates' struggling bullpen.

Van Benschoten, Pittsburgh's first-round draft pick in 2001, went 1-3 with a 6.91 ERA in six games - five starts - for the Pirates in 2004, but has spent much of the time since then in rehabilitation after needing operations on both shoulders.

The right-hander went 6-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 12 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis, striking out 45 and walking 30.

Pirates manager Jim Tracy will miss the final two games of the series to attend college graduation ceremonies for his son. Bench coach Jim Lett will manage in his absence.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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