TORONTO – Mark Buehrle found it “a little crazy” facing the White Sox for the first time. Still, he kept his cool and shut down his former team.
Buehrle pitched in and out of trouble into the seventh inning, J.P. Arencibia and Maicer Izturis hit solo homers and the Toronto Blue Jays topped the Sox, 4-3, on Monday night.
“It was different seeing the Sox uniform in the batter’s box,” Buehrle said. “Usually it’s behind me. It’s weird rooting against those guys. I’ve rooted for them for 13 years and wanted them to win every game. This is the first game in I don’t know how long that I’m actually rooting against them.”
Buehrle (1-0) went 61/3 innings in his first career start against the Sox, allowing two runs and nine hits. The left-hander walked two and struck out three. Both runs he allowed came in the first.
“Once he got through that first inning it kind of became a clinic on hitting spots, changing speeds,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You’ve seen this his whole career. He’s just a smart pitcher.”
A four-time All-Star during his 12 seasons with the White Sox from 2000-11, Buehrle starred for the Sox’s 2005 World Series championship team, pitched a no-hitter in 2007 and perfect game in 2009.
“He had a tremendous career there,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He helped, in a lot of ways, make the Sox what they are. All those years when they were playing really well, he was one of the key guys.
Buehrle said facing so many old friends forced him to be more focused than usual.
“I tried not to take a look at too many guys stepping into the batter’s box because I knew I’d start laughing or something bad would happen,” he said. “I just tried to focus on the glove, which is not me. Usually I’m out looking around and having fun.”
Buehrle acknowledged changing up some pitch patterns to keep the Sox guessing.
“It seemed like everything was working,” he said. “J.P. called a great game and we had a good game plan going in. Obviously, knowing that they know me, we kind of changed a few things up.”
Arencibia went deep in the first and Izturis connected to begin the second as the Blue Jays opened a seven-game homestand with their third victory in four games.
Esmil Rogers pitched one hitless inning of relief before the Sox rallied in the eighth against Aaron Loup. Adam Dunn was hit by a pitch, went to third on Dayan Viciedo’s double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alexei Ramirez. Loup struck out Tyler Flowers to preserve the one-run lead.
Casey Janssen finished for his fourth save in as many chances.
Right-hander Gavin Floyd (0-3) remained winless as the slumping White Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games.
The Sox jumped on Buehrle with two in the first as Paul Konerko and Viciedo hit RBI singles.
Toronto quickly tied it in the bottom half when Emilio Bonifacio led off with a double, advanced on a passed ball and scored on Melky Cabrera’s sacrifice fly. Arencibia followed with a homer that bounced off the top of the wall in right center, his fourth.
Izturis made it 3-2 with a leadoff drive to right in the bottom of the second, his second, and the Blue Jays tacked on one more in the fourth when Munenori Kawasaki hit his first career triple and scored on Bonifacio’s sacrifice fly.
The Sox put runners at the corners with two out in the fifth but Buehrle escaped by fanning Konerko.
“Big situation right there and I just knew I had to make a pitch,” Buehrle said. “I know how great a hitter [Konerko] is.”
Konerko said the experience of facing his teammate of 12 years wasn’t particularly enjoyable for either one of them.
“I didn’t have much fun with it, and I don’t think he did, either,” Konerko said. “But it was a good game, and he pitched well.”
Toronto chased Floyd in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with one out on a single and a pair of walks. Hector Santiago came on and got Izturis to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Floyd allowed four runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out six.
“The first couple of innings everything was up in the zone and they didn’t miss,” Ventura said.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was held out of the starting lineup with a sore back.
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game to honor those affected by the bombings in Boston. ... Players on both teams wore uniform number 42 in tribute to Jackie Robinson. ... Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes visited a specialist Monday who confirmed that he won’t need surgery on his sprained left ankle. Reyes is expected to miss three months. ... The Blue Jays placed RHP Sergio Santos (triceps strain) on the 15-day DL and will activate INF Brett Lawrie (left ribcage strain) off the 15-day DL on Tuesday. Toronto also selected RHP Ramon Ortiz from Triple-A Buffalo and designated OF Casper Wells for assignment. ... Promoted from Triple-A Charlotte Sunday, White Sox infielder Tyler Greene made his season debut at second base.