Eric Wedge's final home game was like so many others this season: empty seats, a young lineup and a loss.
Cleveland Indians' Matt LaPorta, right, is tagged out at the plate by Chicago White Sox catcher Ramon Castro during the sixth inning in the first game of a baseball doubleheader on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, in Cleveland. LaPorta tried scoring from third on a fly ball by Indians' Lou Marson.
Mark Buehrle pitched six shutout innings and Paul Konerko drove in the only run as the Chicago White Sox beat Cleveland 1-0 to split a season-ending doubleheader Wednesday night, ending Wedge's seven-year managerial run at home with the Indians.
Wedge's firing -- and the dismissal of his coaching staff -- was announced a few hours before the opener, won by the Indians 5-1. Despite being let go with six games left, the dedicated Wedge wanted to finish what has been one of the most disappointing seasons in recent team history.
In the second game, Buehrle (13-10) outdueled Justin Masterson (4-10) and sent Wedge off on a final road trip to Boston's Fenway Park, where the Indians played for the AL title just two years ago, with another tough loss to ponder.
It's been that way all year for a club that was expected to contend in the AL Central but crashed instead.
Cleveland finished 35-46 at Progressive Field, the club's worst mark at home since 1991 when the Indians lost a franchise-record 105 games and finished at the bottom of the East. The Indians also drew 1,766,242 fans, their lowest total since 1992 when they were at the old Municipal Stadium.
Buehrle allowed three hits -- two in the first -- and struck out three in one of his best performances since his perfect game on July 23.
Masterson was better. He struck out 12, the most by a Cleveland right-hander since Bartolo Colon fanned 13 at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 18, 2000. Masterson, who came over in a deadline deal with Boston, gave up four hits in his first career complete game.
Chicago's Matt Thornton worked the ninth for his fourth save.
In the opener, Fausto Carmona (5-12) pitched seven strong innings for Cleveland.
Buehrle had struggled since throwing the 18th perfect game in history against Tampa Bay.
The Indians were fortunate to get a pair of two-out hits off Buehrle in the first. After that, the left-hander dominated them.
With two down, Shin Soo-Choo singled and Jhonny Peralta doubled. Matt LaPorta then grounded out on a ball that deflected off Buehrle's glove to second baseman Brent Lillibridge, ending Cleveland's only threat.
The White Sox weren't having much more success against Masterson, who matched Buehrle pitch for pitch until Konerko singled in a run in the sixth. DeWayne Wise led off with a double over the head of center fielder Trevor Crowe. Masterson retired the next two before Konerko bounced a hit through the middle.
Travis Hafner homered in the opener for Cleveland. The designated hitter, whose injuries have contributed to Cleveland's slide in the standings, was pleased he could hit one on the day Wedge was released.
"Wedge and I came to town the same year," he said. "He has taught me a lot about the game and life as well. It's been a tough day."
NOTES: Buehrle is the only active pitcher to throw at least 200 innings in each of the past nine seasons. ... The last time the Indians finished their home schedule with a doubleheader was in 1972 against Baltimore. ... Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera left in the fifth inning of the opener with tightness in his hamstring and did not play in the second game.
SOURCE: The Associated Press