MINNEAPOLIS – The Chicago White Sox didn't care much for the Metrodome. They're starting to dislike Target Field as well.
Buehrle was beaten despite giving up just three hits over seven innings. The White Sox fell to 0-4 this season against their primary division rival, scoring a total of three runs in the process. They're 3-8 overall at Minnesota's new ballpark over two years.
"The last couple of days we could do nothing offensively," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think their pitchers were doing their job, but we couldn't get the big hit. We couldn't get any hits."
Blackburn (6-4) matched his career high by winning his fifth straight decision, coming over his past nine starts. He scattered seven hits with one walk and one strikeout, continuing a remarkable run this month by the Twins' rotation. Minnesota has won 11 of its last 13 games, despite missing a slew of key position players including Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel. Mauer will return on Friday.
"They play good baseball when they play at home. They're not just playing good baseball against us. I think they've been playing good baseball for a few weeks," Guillen said. "You've got to give them some credit. When you're missing Mauer, Morneau, Thome and Kubel and you're still winning some games, you've got to give those guys credit."
Matt Capps, making his first appearance in eight days, pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 14 attempts this season. He gave up a one-out single to Adam Dunn, but Gordon Beckham and pinch hitter Omar Vizquel each struck out to end the game.
"Not a lot of teams are as aggressive one through nine as they are," Blackburn said. "They're all up there hacking, and that's pretty much what you're getting used to when you know you're about to face the White Sox."
Buehrle (6-5) has pitched exceptionally well over his last eight starts since the beginning of May, surrendering only 17 runs in 55 innings for a 2.78 ERA. He's 5-2 in that span, thanks to this hard-luck second loss. Buehrle walked two, hit one batter and struck out three.
All it took was one big swing from the surging Cuddyer, who sent Buehrle's pitch into the White Sox bullpen beyond left-center field leading off the second inning, and Blackburn held that up.
Cuddyer has been a streaky hitter in his career but also can be a dangerous opponent for left-hander pitchers, as Buehrle has learned. Cuddyer is now batting .344 (33 for 96) with three homers and 11 RBIs against Buehrle.
"He's a good hitter," Buehrle said. "He's one of the few guys they have in that lineup that was there for opening day, and he's doing what he has to do to carry that team."
Mimicking Carl Pavano's complete game the night before, Blackburn kept the White Sox guessing and kept the ball on the ground all afternoon. The right-hander induced a pair of double plays and could've had a third, but Tsuyoshi Nishioka committed an error by bobbling a bouncing ball hit by Paul Konerko in the sixth before he could start to turn two.
Carlos Quentin beat the ball to the base for a two-out single in the eighth, and Konerko followed by ripping one up the middle. But Blackburn retired A.J. Pierzynski on a lazy fly to center, ending another threat.
After averaging 4.7 runs over in their first 11 games in June, the White Sox managed just one run in two games at Target Field, leaving Pierzynski frustrated at the team's inability to maintain consistency on offense.
"We feel besides Paulie and Carlos, who have swung the bats great all year, everybody else has been kind of up and down," Pierzynski said. "It's baseball, and we've got to find a way to get it going."
Despite their struggles, Guillen dismissed the possibility of changes to the lineup soon.
"You start to change the lineups and stuff, and all of a sudden people think you're panicking," Guillen said. "To me, I want to put the best lineup out there every day and hopefully you'll score some more runs."
Notes: The White Sox won't have a DH this weekend during their series at Arizona, but manager Ozzie Guillen said he'll play Dunn once or twice, at 1B or perhaps LF. Despite a batting average barely above .180, Guillen said he likes the way Dunn has been swinging and is seeing progress. As for his defense? "He's better than what people think. Obviously he's not a Gold Glover, but he's going out there and he knows what to do," Guillen said. ... Quentin leads the majors by being hit by 14 pitches this year.