CHICAGO » In a rare matchup between perfect starting pitchers, it was a young reliever and a catcher that made the difference for the Oakland Athletics.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki homered on a 1-2 pitch from Jesse Crain with two outs in the 10th inning, giving Oakland a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox last night.
"It’s a big thrill," said Suzuki. "Any time you can get a hit when it really counts, it’s an exciting time."
The pitching matchup between lefties Mark Buehrle and Dallas Braden marked the 21st time in major-league history opposing starting pitchers who have thrown a perfect game faced each other.
"I don’t really ever let what the other guy is doing affect my game plan," said Braden. "I actually kind of like it, because you’re back out there and back at your craft."
After managing just two singles and a walk in eight innings against Buehrle, the Athletics came alive when the lefty departed after throwing 99 pitches.
"Buehrle was so tough at that point that they could have brought in anybody and it would have been a little bit of a relief, just because he was so tough," said Athletics manager Bob Geren.
The White Sox wasted Buehrle’s dominant performance with their second ninth-inning implosion of the season. Buehrle was lifted after eight scoreless innings and allowed only three baserunners — none past first base.
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 Juan 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.
Oakland didn’t get its first hit until Suzuki led off the sixth with a single.
"It was the same thing Buehrle always does," said Suzuki, a Baldwin graduate from Maui. "Changes pitches, throwing strikes. A lot of guys say he throws junk, but he’s an aggressive strike thrower. He throws junk, but he throws it for strikes. That’s what makes him so tough — he can throw everything for strikes."