Once he found his groove, the veteran southpaw delivered a performance the Chicago White Sox knew he was capable of.
Buehrle recovered from a two-run first inning Monday night to pick up his first win as a Blue Jay in Toronto's 4-3 victory over Chicago at Rogers Centre. The fact it came against his former teammates and some good friends was a nice bonus.
"Once we cross the lines, I'm out there trying to win just like they're trying to beat my brains in," Buehrle said. "So you just have to go out there and try to perform."
Buehrle (1-0), who spent 12 of his first 13 big-league seasons in Chicago, allowed nine hits, two earned runs and two walks over 6 1-3 innings while striking out three.
"Guys like him, they can pitch at this level because they're smart and they don't have to throw 95 to get people out," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "It's something I know White Sox people have seen forever. It was a clinic."
J.P. Arencibia and Maicer Izturis hit home runs for Toronto (6-7), which had 10 hits on the night.
Arencibia went deep in the first inning off Chicago starter Gavin Floyd (0-3) and Izturis put the Blue Jays ahead to stay an inning later. Aaron Loup gave up a run in the eighth before Casey Janssen picked up his fourth save as Toronto took the opener of the four-game series.
After the game, the Blue Jays announced that third baseman Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., would be activated from the disabled list Tuesday. He was at Class-A Dunedin on a rehab assignment after suffering a rib injury last month.
The team also planned to put right-handed reliever Sergio Santos on the 15-day DL with a triceps strain.
Paul Konerko and Dayan Viciedo had RBI singles for the White Sox (5-8) in the first but Toronto used its speed and power to pull even in the bottom half of the frame.
Emilio Bonifacio led off with a hard chopper that deflected off Adam Dunn's glove and rolled down the first-base line. He took second base on the play, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly from Melky Cabrera.
Arencibia followed with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot that bounced off the top of the wall in right-centre field. Edwin Encarnacion reached on a single and moved to third on an Adam Lind double but they were stranded when Mark DeRosa and Colby Rasmus struck out.
Izturis gave Toronto the lead in the second inning with a solo blast to right field, his second homer of the year.
Munenori Kawasaki tripled in the fourth inning and scored when Bonifacio hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field. Chicago threatened in the fifth by putting runners on the corners but Buehrle escaped by getting Konerko on a strikeout.
Buehrle said he usually goes with the change-up when he's behind in the count but he gave credit to Arencibia for calling a curve ball against Chicago's cleanup hitter.
"I don't throw very many of them," Buehrle said. "I thought it was a great combination the way we went at it. That was a big situation right there."
Buehrle, who spent last season with the Miami Marlins, was coming off two poor outings to start the season.
"He settled down after that first inning and did a great job," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "He really did. He took us into the seventh inning. I know he feels good on both ends for a good start that he wanted and needed, plus it's against his old teammates.
"So I guess you could say at this point he's got the upper hand anyway."
Dunn reached with one out in the eighth when he was hit by a pitch. He moved to third base on a Viciedo double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alexei Ramirez.
Janssen retired all three batters he faced in the ninth. The game took two hours 38 minutes to play and announced attendance was 15,755.
Floyd lasted four-plus innings, allowing nine hits, four earned runs and three walks. He had six strikeouts.
Notes: Players from both teams wore No. 42 jerseys on Jackie Robinson Day. ... Before the game, a moment of silence was held for victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. ... Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was given the night off to rest a sore back. He's expected to return Tuesday night. ... Toronto selected the contract of right-hander Ramon Ortiz from triple-A Buffalo on Monday and outfielder Casper Wells was designated for assignment. ... Injured shortstop Jose Reyes won't need surgery on his severely sprained left ankle but is still expected to miss three months, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said before the game. Reyes visited a specialist in Charlotte, N.C., who confirmed the diagnosis. The veteran infielder won't be ready to begin rehab activity for at least a month. ... Josh Johnson (0-1) is scheduled to start Tuesday night against Chicago's Dylan Axelrod (0-1). Once the four-game series against the White Sox is complete, the Blue Jays will entertain the New York Yankees for a three-game weekend set.