CHICAGO - Mark Buehrle pitched the first no-hitter of the season Wednesday night - and he was nearly perfect, too.
The Chicago White Sox left-hander faced the minimum 27 batters in a 6-0 victory over the Texas Rangers, picking off the only runner he walked and throwing his team's first no-hitter since 1991.
Working quickly and efficiently in a dominant performance, Buehrle allowed only one baserunner. He walked Sammy Sosa with one out in the fifth inning, then promptly picked him off first base.
"I can't believe I did it," Buehrle said. "Perfect game would have been nice, too."
With the crowd on its feet in the ninth, Buehrle struck out Matt Kata and Nelson Cruz, then got Gerald Laird to hit a slow grounder to third base that Joe Crede picked up and threw to first. As Paul Konerko caught the ball, he pumped his fist, setting off a wild celebration.
"I knew Crede over there, he's a pretty good defensive player. I had faith in him and I just started pumping my fist because I knew I had a chance to get the out," Buehrle said.
Buehrle was mobbed by teammates at the side of the mound, including catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and then got a big hug from manager Ozzie Guillen as he came off the field.
On a chilly, 40-degree night, Buehrle threw 105 pitches. His previous low-hit game was a one-hitter against Tampa Bay on Aug. 3, 2001. It was the 16th no-hitter in White Sox history and first since Wilson Alvarez threw one at Baltimore on Aug. 11, 1991.
"I was part of one in high school," Buehrle said. "To get through a big league lineup three times, I never thought it would happen."
It was the first no-hitter pitched against the Rangers since June 17, 1995, when Toronto's David Cone threw one in a 4-0 win.
More than two years passed without a no-hitter in Major League Baseball before rookie Anibal Sanchez threw one for Florida on Sept. 6, ending the longest stretch without a no-no in big league history. His gem against the Arizona Diamondbacks was the first in the majors since Arizona's Randy Johnson threw a perfect game to beat Atlanta 2-0 on May 18, 2004.
Buehrle, who retired 20 of the final 22 batters he faced in his previous start against Oakland, had some stellar defensive plays behind him before a crowd of 25,390 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Three of the closest plays came on grounders. Jerry Hairston hit one to Crede at third in the third inning and was called out at first after a headlong slide. Replays showed Hairston was out, but he was ejected by first base umpire James Hoye for arguing and had to be restrained by first base coach Gary Pettis when he returned to the field.
Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi made a diving stop of Hank Blalock's grounder in the hole, got up and threw him out to end the fifth. That came one batter after Sosa spoiled the perfect game bid by drawing the walk.
"Obviously, for a guy like me, I need my defense behind me," Buehrle said.
Once the ace of the White Sox staff, Buehrle went 12-13 last season - his first losing record in six full major league seasons.
The White Sox made it easier Wednesday night by breaking out of an offensive slump. They had scored only two runs in the previous three games, all losses.
Jim Thome homered twice - giving him 477 for his career - and Dye hit a two-out grand slam in the fifth off Kevin Millwood (2-2).