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Bedard, O's get dirt on White Sox

July 14, 2007|By DAVID GINSBURG

BALTIMORE - Mark Buehrle gave the Chicago White Sox a solid return on their investment in his first start since signing a $56 million, four-year contract extension.

Unfortunately for the White Sox, Erik Bedard was even better.

Bedard pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and Nick Markakis and Corey Patterson homered off Buehrle to lead the Orioles to a 2-0 victory Friday night.

Bedard (8-4) struck out seven to increase his AL-leading total to 156. The left-hander walked two and allowed only three runners past first base in extending his run of scoreless innings to 16. He threw 98 pitches, 64 for strikes.

"Just throwing a lot of strikes is the key. Throwing the first-pitch strike helps a lot," Bedard said.

In his last start against Chicago, on July 2, Bedard did not receive a decision after yielding six runs, five hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings.

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"We see a different Bedard than we see in Chicago. This kid, he make big pitches," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.

"He's one of the best lefties in the game. In a tough situation, he stepped it up a notch and he got better."

Guillen was referring to the Chicago seventh, when Jim Thome drew a one-out walk and took third on a double by Paul Konerko. Bedard then struck out Jermaine Dye and Josh Fields, both on called third strikes.

"I made a pitch when I had to and they didn't swing," Bedard said.

Bedard outdid Buehrle (6-5), the subject of trade rumors before he signed the extension Sunday. Buehrle permitted six hits and a walk in his third complete game of the season.

"As long as he pitches like that he's going to win a lot of games," Guillen said. "Especially after he signed the contract. A lot of people ask: Now that he got the money let's see what he can do."

Buehrle did quite well, except for the homers by Markakis and Patterson, both of whom are left-handed batters.

"This year has been pretty bad with lefties. I think they're hitting .300 off me," said Buehrle, a left-hander. "Lefties are hitting better than righties off me."

Bedard, on the other hand, had success against virtually everyone he faced. He's 4-0 in his last five starts and owns a 2.19 ERA in 14 starts since the beginning of May.

Coming off a two-hit shutout of Texas in which he faced the minimum 27 batters, Bedard went up against the minimum 12 over the first four innings, thanks to a pair of double plays. But the streak ended in the fifth, when Konerko hit a leadoff double before Bedard retired the next three batters.

Bedard is neither tall nor strong, but he certainly can be effective.

"He's one of those guys that's not a mystery, just tough to hit," Konerko said.

After Bedard escaped trouble in the seventh, he received a hearty handshake in the dugout from interim manager Dave Trembley.

"Well, he knows when I do that he's done. I don't ask him," Trembley said. "That's my way of telling him, 'Great job, I appreciate it, you're done."'

After Paul Shuey got the first two outs in the eighth, Jamie Walker gave up a single before retiring the side. Chris Ray worked the ninth to complete the four-hitter and earn his 15th save.

Markakis put Baltimore up 1-0 by leading off the fourth inning with his 10th home run, a drive that cleared the 25-foot scoreboard in right. With his first homer since June 8, Markakis joined third baseman Melvin Mora as the only Orioles with at least 10 home runs.

Patterson made it 2-0 in the fifth with his third homer of the season. Two of them have come against the White Sox in a six-game span.

Baltimore came into the game ranked 12th in the AL in home runs, ahead of only Los Angeles and Kansas City.

Markakis and Kevin Millar hit successive one-out singles in the sixth before Aubrey Huff hit into a 3-6-1 double play.

Notes: An examination of Mora's ailing left foot Friday revealed a grade one sprain. He will miss at least a week, and could be placed on the disabled list this weekend. ... Thome walked twice to pass Frank Robinson for 21st on the career list with 1,421 walks. ... A.J. Pierzynski got a pinch-hit single in the eighth. He's 4-for-9 as a PH this season. ... Chicago is 9-17 against LH starters.

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