White Sox lose game and AL Central title in Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Chicago White Sox are almost certainly going to miss the playoffs.

So are the Oakland Athletics, despite beating Chicago 7-2 Tuesday night and knocking the White Sox out of the AL Central race.

But the Athletics can take solace in having found a key part of their rotation for next season -- Trevor Cahill became their first 17-game winner since Mark Mulder.

And that was after beginning the season in the minors.

One day after Gio Gonzalez and three relievers combined on a four-hit shutout, Cahill (17-7) dominated the White Sox through eight innings by himself.

"If I wouldn't have got sent down maybe I wouldn't have got that motivation to come up here and get that confidence," said Cahill, who struck out seven and walked one. "I could have started out rough and then my confidence would have been lowered. When I went down I didn't want to just go through the motions and get down on myself. I used it as motivation."

The loss was the eighth straight for the White Sox, their longest since an eight game skid Aug. 11-19, 2007. It handed the AL Central title to the Minnesota Twins, who became the first team to clinch a postseason berth, and pushed Chicago to the brink of elimination in the AL wild-card race.

"It's disappointing for me," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It's another losing year no matter what. I'm not paid to have a good season. I'm getting paid to have winning seasons and we didn't do that this year."

The White Sox fell 12 games back of Minnesota in the AL Central after they led the division by a half-game at the All-Star break.

Omar Vizquel had two hits for the White Sox, who have lost 12 of 14 overall.

Buehrle (12-12) extended his winless slump to six games. The left-hander was tagged for five runs and nine in the first four innings alone. He left after six innings with five strikeouts.

It was the 16th consecutive game the White Sox have failed to get their starting pitcher a win, breaking the franchise record of 15 set in 1985. Chicago starters are 0-9 with a 7.12 ERA over the rough stretch.

"It's one of those games we couldn't catch a break," Buehrle said. "They're putting the balls in play and finding the holes. It was just one of those days."

Cahill retired 12 of the first 14 batters before Alexei Ramirez doubled leading off the fifth. Ramirez scored on Brent Morel's groundout and Chicago added another run in the sixth but that was it.

The 22-year-old Cahill, who began the season in the minors after losing out to Gonzalez as Oakland's fifth starter, is the first A's pitcher to get to 17 wins without a win in April since Vida Blue in 1974.

"He had a good changeup going and he used his curveball a little more than normal," manager Bob Geren said. "He had one inning where they linked a bunch of hits together. Other than that he got a lot of groundball outs and he threw strikes. He's got on a nice roll and tonight was a pretty classic game."

Cahill benefited from an A's offense that had its best night in more than a month. Oakland had four doubles and got some help from two Chicago errors.

Kurt Suzuki and Cliff Pennington drove in two runs apiece for the A's, who pounded out 13 hits against Mark Buehrle and one reliever. Rajai Davis added three hits and scored twice as Oakland reached 76 wins for the first time since finishing 76-86 in 2007. Jack Cust and rookie Chris Carter had two hits apiece.

Game notes
The White Sox loaded the bases in the ninth against two relievers before Craig Breslow got pinch-hitter Paul Konerko to ground out, ending the game. ... Buehrle needs 1 2/3 innings to reach 200 for a 10th straight season, which would be the longest active streak in the majors. ... Chicago RHP Gavin Floyd, who left Monday's game after just seven pitches due to tightness in his right shoulder, is almost certain to miss his next start while resting. ... Oakland RHP Ben Sheets, on the disabled list after undergoing three surgeries on his right elbow, was selected as the winner of the 2010 Jim 'Catfish' Hunter Award, given annually to an A's player who exemplifies the courage and spirit of Hunter. ... Carter singled in his first two at-bats against Buehrle, giving him three straight hits after starting his major league career with an 0-for-33 slide.