CHICAGO – After watching his bullpen blow a three-run lead in the ninth less than a week ago, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had no second thoughts about pulling Mark Buehrle from a dominant start.
Kurt Suzuki hit a go-ahead home run in the 10th inning, and the Oakland Athletics capitalized on Juan Pierre's dropped fly ball in the ninth to rally to a 2-1 victory over Chicago on Monday night.
The White Sox wasted Buehrle's strong performance with their second ninth-inning implosion of the season. Buehrle was lifted after eight scoreless innings and 99 pitches. He allowed only three baserunners — none past first base.
"One thing I said, in spring training and I say over and over, we got to take care of Buehrle. Buehrle did his job, he had (99) pitches. Our bullpen, they get paid pretty good. I have confidence in the bullpen. I will use them the best way I can because I think we have a good bullpen. We have guys out there with good arms and that can pitch," said Guillen.
Matt Thornton, who already had two blown saves in two opportunities, came on and allowed a leadoff double to Andy LaRoche in the ninth.
One out later, Daric Barton hit a deep fly that Pierre dropped in the left-field corner, allowing pinch-runner Cliff Pennington to easily score from second and tie the game 1-1. Pierre also had a dropped fly in Friday's loss to the Rays, which helped Tampa Bay rally from three runs down in the ninth to win.
"Juan Pierre is a great player. He's made two mistakes behind me, I will never say anything bad about that guy, I want every fly ball I get to go to him. He's dedicated to this game more than anyone in baseball, I'll never say anything behind him or any of my teammates, they're great players, they're gold glovers and All-Stars," said Thornton.
Suzuki put the A's ahead on a two-out solo shot off Jesse Crain (0-1) in the 10th. His line drive barely got over the wall in left.
"It's a big thrill. Any time you can get a hit when it really counts, it's an exciting time," said Suzuki.
Tyson Ross (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings in his season debut and Brian Fuentes pitched a perfect 10th for his fourth save. Pierre, who was greeted by loud boos, grounded out to end it.
The pitching matchup between lefties Buehrle and Dallas Braden marked the 21st time in major-league history opposing starters who have thrown a perfect game have faced each other.
Buehrle, who pitched a perfect game on July 23, 2009, against the Rays and a no-hitter April 18, 2007, against Texas, appeared to have no-hit stuff again. He retired the first 10 batters before walking Barton in the fourth. Buehrle quickly made up for it by getting Josh Willingham to ground back to him to start an inning-ending double play.
"It was one of those games that everything was working," said Buehrle. "Like I said, 33 starts, 11 of them you're going to have good stuff, 11 you're going to be so-so and 11 of them are going to be bad and today was one of the good ones."
Oakland didn't get its first hit until Suzuki led off the sixth with a single. White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham had a chance to retire Suzuki, but he couldn't come up with a sliding catch in foul territory.
Buehrle, who didn't give up his next hit until a two-out single to Willingham in the seventh, struck out one and walked one in his third start this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the ninth time Buehrle has taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
Buehrle finally got some help in the fifth on Brent Lillibridge's first homer of the season. After retiring the first two batters, Lillibridge tagged Braden's first pitch to the bleachers in left-center, putting the White Sox ahead.
In his second start, Braden allowed one run on five hits. He struck out seven and walked two. He didn't allow a hit until an infield single by Alex Rios in the fourth inning.
"I don't know if you'd call it pitch-for-pitch. You're just trying to match momentum. I've always said, if I'm in the game, it's going to be quick," said Braden.
Paul Konerko, who was named co-AL player of the week, extended his 11-game hitting streak with a single in the sixth inning.
NOTES: Guillen still doesn't have a clear timetable when DH Adam Dunn is going to be back in the lineup. "When he tells me he's ready, I'm going to give him an extra day," said Guillen. Dunn has missed six straight games after undergoing emergency appendectomy surgery on Wednesday. ... RHP Jake Peavy is scheduled to throw 90 pitches in a rehab start on Wednesday. ... The last time two opposing perfect game winners faced was when Arizona's Randy Johnson faced San Diego's David Wells on April 24, 2007. Lillebridge's home run was the 10,000 in franchise history.