Buehrle gives 'pen break by going distance

Buehrle gives 'pen break by going distance

Buehrle gives 'pen break by going distance
SAN DIEGO -- A tapped-out Marlins bullpen was in need of a night off. Mark Buehrle made sure they got it.

The veteran left-hander stepped up with a complete game, and the Marlins clipped the Padres, 4-1, on Saturday night at Petco Park.

Buehrle's first complete game since 2010 when he was with the White Sox, came on a day the Marlins' bullpen only had a few pitchers available. Miami's relievers were worn out after logging 9 1/3 innings on Friday night.

"Every time I go out there, I try to go deep in the game," said Buehrle, who allowed five hits and threw 116 pitches. "Obviously, knowing the situation with guys getting worn out [Friday] and guys being shut down, it put more stress in going out there. But no matter what the situation is, even if the bullpen is fresh, I try to go deep into the game."

Known for working at a quick pace, Buehrle's performance polished off the game in two hours and 18 minutes, another relief considering Friday's 9-8 game that went 12 innings lingered for four hours and 45 minutes.

"It's fun to play behind Buehrle," shortstop Jose Reyes said. "He works quick and throws a lot of strikes. He keeps you in the game, that's good. I love that. Big win."

Buehrle gave Miami its first complete game of the season, and first since Javier Vazquez on Sept. 27 against Washington.

The left-hander hadn't thrown a complete game since Oct. 2, 2010, when he was with the White Sox facing the Indians. That was a shortened six-inning game.

Buehrle's last nine-inning complete game came on July 23, 2010, at Oakland.

"Today was big, huge," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Every game is huge, but this game for him was huge for everyone because now we went one more day without using people."

With the wear and tear on the 'pen, Guillen was asked before Saturday's game who would close.

"Mark Buehrle," Guillen joked.

It became true.

"That's good managing," Guillen said. "I know this kid for a long time. I know if he's going to have a bad game, he's going to give me some innings, because he knows how desperate we were for relievers."

The lefty struck out three, and with his sinker and changeup working, he induced plenty of ground balls. Fourteen of San Diego's first 18 outs were products of grounders.

"That's his game plan," Guillen said. "Buehrle's game, there is going to be contact, and you play good defense behind him. You better be alert, because the ball will be put in play."

Omar Infante drove in two runs, and Giancarlo Stanton belted a solo home run in the ninth off Miles Mikolas, a Jupiter, Fla., native who was making his Major League debut.

Miami has won a season-high five straight, all on this West Coast road trip.

The Marlins were able to manufacture two runs to claim a 3-1 lead in the eighth. Padres starter Clayton Richard opened the inning and got in trouble by walking Jose Reyes. Emilio Bonifacio's bunt single gave Miami two baserunners with no outs.

Until Miami grabbed the lead in the eighth, Buehrle and Richard were locked in a fast-paced duel.

San Diego relieved Richard with Dale Thayer, a right-hander. Hanley Ramirez was 3-for-3 off Richard, and he was getting a different look from the hard-throwing Thayer. Ramirez delivered a grounder up the middle that was fielded by second baseman Orlando Hudson behind the bag. After touching second for the force out, Hudson's throw to first was high, dragging Yonder Alonso's foot off the bag.

With Ramirez safe, the Marlins had runners at the corners with one out. Greg Dobbs pinch-hit for Austin Kearns and delivered a run-scoring single to right. Infante lifted a sacrifice fly to center, giving Miami had a two-run cushion.

Infante, who drove in the winning run with a double in the 12th inning on Friday, picked up where he left off on Saturday.

In the fourth, Infante's double scored Kearns to give Miami a 1-0 lead. Kearns singled to right with one out. But on the play, Ramirez was thrown out trying to go from first to third by Chris Denorfia.

Both teams were unable to capitalize on scoring chances. The Marlins had second and third and no outs in the fifth inning and were unable to score.

The Padres cashed in and tied the game at 1 in the sixth on Chase Headley's RBI single to center. There was a bit of controversy in the inning on Jesus Guzman's double that deflected off Ramirez's glove at third.

Ramirez made a leaping attempt on the hot liner. After the ball tipped off his glove, Ramirez ran it down and made a strong throw to Infante at second. The throw beat Guzman, but second-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth ruled safe.

The run in the sixth was all the Padres could manufacture off the Miami veteran.

"Buehrle was outstanding," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "He cut the ball. He sank it, changed speeds, brought the curveball into play the middle part of the game, and started throwing a lot of slow curves.

"It was tantalizing. He keeps the ball down, changes speeds, and he worked both sides of the plate. This guy has been a very good pitcher for a number of years. Our guys haven't seen a lot of him. He's a good one."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro.* This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.