White Sox 2, Cubs 1

The plan called for Mark Buehrle and the rest of the Chicago

White Sox’s rotation to dominate.

Who thought it would take this long to come to fruition?

Buehrle pitched scoreless ball into the seventh, Paul Konerko

drove in two runs and the White Sox handed Carlos Silva his first

loss, beating the struggling Cubs 2-1 Saturday for their

season-high fourth straight win.

Konerko delivered a run-scoring single in the first and another

in the seventh after Juan Pierre stole second, avoiding the tag

with a neat dive. Konerko is 20 for 42 in his last 12 games.

The Cubs got a run-scoring single from Ryan Theriot off Bobby

Jenks with two outs in the ninth, but Jenks struck out Chad Tracy

for his 11th save in 12 chances.

Buehrle (4-6), meanwhile, looked like his old self while sending

the crosstown Cubs to their ninth loss in 12 games.

The solid outing by Buehrle capped a string of strong

performances by a rotation that is finally starting to live up to

the hype. White Sox starters have a 1.60 ERA over the past five

games – a big improvement for a group that started the week with an

American League-worst 5.28 ERA.

“That’s how we were supposed to be pitching,” Buehrle said.

“That’s what we expected coming out of spring training.”

The veteran left-hander allowed eight hits and struck out seven

without a walk against an all right-handed lineup after going 1-6

with a 6.22 ERA in his previous 10 starts. He left to cheers from

the White Sox fans after allowing back-to-back singles by Tyler

Colvin and Theriot with two outs in the seventh.

Sergio Santos came in and struck out pinch-hitter Chad Tracy

with a 97-mph fastball on the outside corner.

J.J. Putz pitched a scoreless eighth.

Jenks issued a leadoff walk in the ninth to Geovany Soto, who

went to second on Kosuke Fukudome’s chopper to the mound for the

second out and came around on Theriot’s single to right, but the

White Sox hung on.

“We’re getting the good pitching and timely hitting,” Pierre

said. “We dug ourselves such a hole that it’s going to take one of

these runs to get back in this thing. This is a big stretch for

us.”

Marlon Byrd had three hits for the Cubs, who fell eight games

below .500 for the first time since they were 24-32 on June 5,

2007. They went on to win the first of two straight NL Central

titles that year.

“It’s very disappointing,” Alfonso Soriano said. “We’re not

supposed to lose like we lost today.”

Silva (8-1) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings

while falling short in his bid to become the first Cubs starter to

open a season 9-0 since Ken Holtzman in 1967. He set career highs

with 123 pitches and two hit batters, and although he wasn’t at his

sharpest, he delivered another solid outing.

He allowed consecutive singles by Alexei Ramirez, Alex Rios and

Konerko as the White Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first and left the

bases loaded after hitting A.J. Pierzynski.

Pierre set up the White Sox’s second run with a leadoff walk in

the seventh and a spectacular dive to steal second on a

pitchout.

The throw from Soto beat him by about six feet, but Pierre

lifted his left arm and contorted his body to avoid shortstop

Starlin Castro’s tag before getting his hand on the bag.

With two outs, the Cubs decided to go after the surging Konerko

rather than walk him to face Carlos Quentin, and he drove in Pierre

with a single to right to make it 2-0.

As for the tag, Castro thought Pierre was out, but manager Lou

Piniella said he won’t get that call.

“He has a tendency to want to reach out instead of putting the

ball or the glove on the bag where he can tag the runner,”

Piniella said. “He wants to reach. And the umpires, when they see

you reach and then they see you reach again, they’re not going to

give you the call.”

NOTES: The Cubs will honor the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks

in a pregame ceremony on Sunday, with several players throwing out

a ceremonial first pitch and leading the crowd in “Take Me Out to

the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch. Jim Cornelison

will also sing the national anthem, as he does at Blackhawks games.

Blackhawks president John McDonough was a longtime Cubs executive.

… White Sox infielder Omar Vizquel, who’s tending to a family

matter in Venezuela, might be back in time for Sunday’s game.