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Chicago White Sox's Mark Buehrle throws perfect game against Tampa Bay Rays in 5-0 win

CHICAGO

Chicago's Mark Buehrle was perfect Thursday, and there was nothing the Rays could do about it.

No hits, no walks, no baserunners, no nothing.

Buehrle finished the afternoon with a historic accomplishment, the 18th perfect game in major-league history, as well as a congratulatory call from President and chief White Sox fan Barack Obama.

"I don't know if it's really sunk in yet," Buehrle said.

The Rays ended their day claiming to be merely the accessories, treating it as something of an interesting experience but nothing more than a 5-0 defeat that happened to include a few more zeroes on the score sheet.

"Just another loss," manager Joe Maddon said at least a couple of times.

In the clubhouse, the players admitted otherwise, acknowledging the frustration and embarrassment attached to it.

"Nobody likes to be no-hit," B.J. Upton said.

With the U.S. Cellular Field crowd of 28,036 standing and chanting Buehrle's name, the Rays looked like they would spoil the party when Gabe Kapler led off the ninth with a drive headed over the centerfield wall.

But then DeWayne Wise — whom manager Ozzie Guillen inserted as a defensive replacement, brazenly challenging baseball karma — made a spectacular leaping catch.

"Magical," Kapler said.

"It's got to be the play of the year," Evan Longoria added.

Wise, who was on the other side of the last perfect game, by Randy Johnson at Atlanta in May 2004, knew what was at stake.

"It was kind of crazy, man, because when I jumped, the ball hit my glove at the same time I was hitting the wall," he said. "So I didn't realize I had caught it until I fell down and the ball was coming out of my glove. So I reached out and grabbed it."

Rays designated hitter Pat Burrell joked, "He might wake up tomorrow with a new car in his driveway."

Actually, he might.

Buehrle bought all his teammates watches after his April 18, 2007, no-hitter against Texas and said "this one will probably be more expensive."

Buehrle is known for working fast, and the Rays were compliant with his schedule as he cruised along throwing strikes (and not throwing very hard), keeping them off-balance and getting them out. During the 2 hour, 3 minute game, he was on the mound for just a stunning 32 minutes, according to the Fox Sports Florida crew.

The Rays didn't do much to disrupt his rhythm, such as stepping out or taking extra pitches, and they hit only a few balls hard over the first eight innings. Foul line drives by Upton and Burrell were the closest they came to hits before the ninth.

Maddon started to say they had bad at-bats, then amended it to, "We didn't take a whole lot of good swings." Nor even good takes; they had only four three-ball counts.

"The first couple innings just went by too fast," Burrell said. "By the time we realized what we were getting into, I think we were a little late."

On the bench, they knew what was happening but didn't talk much about it. Third-base coach Tom Foley knew what it looked like; he was also in uniform the other time the Rays were no-hit, by Derek Lowe in Boston on April 27, 2002.

"Kind of similar," Foley said.

As the game got later, Longoria said, the Rays got more intense, every at-bat becoming more crucial.

"It wasn't even so much about winning the game as it was getting a hit," he said. "It's a little embarrassing to be on the opposing side of it."

After Wise denied Kapler's bid, Michel Hernandez struck out and Jason Bartlett grounded to short, launching a postseason clinching-style celebration.

Buehrle, 30, is a gregarious type, a favorite of fans and players on all teams. The first thing he did when he met Maddon at the All-Star Game last week was give him a big hug, passed on from Sox trainer Herm Schneider, with whom Maddon worked previously.

"He's just got a way about him," Maddon said. "He has a really good time out there."

As a result, some of the Rays put aside the disappointment of the loss, which dropped them to 52-44 and 6½ games behind the first-place Yankees in the American League East.

"Obviously, we wish we were on the other side of it," Burrell said. "But that was just an awesome, fun thing to be part of, especially for him."

As much as Maddon wants the Rays to forget what happened and insists the blanking "shouldn't have any rollover effect," consider the challenge they have tonight: Roy Halladay pitching what could be his last game for the Jays in Toronto.

"We'll be ready," Upton said. "This kind of left a bitter taste in our mouths. I think you'll definitely see a different ballclub (tonight)."

Rays 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
White Sox 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 x 5 6 0

Chicago White Sox's Mark Buehrle throws perfect game against Tampa Bay Rays in 5-0 win 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 12:32pm]

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