Oakland (84-62) has won 21 of its last 25 home games against Chicago after a 4-2 victory on Friday. The White Sox haven’t captured a series at the Coliseum since winning two of three from Aug. 28-30, 2000.
The Athletics remained five games ahead of second-place Los Angeles in the AL West with Friday’s win.
Chicago fell four games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central race and remained two games back of Minnesota for the wild card.
“There is a lot on the line in this series,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “I’m sure they looked up there and saw Detroit won and Minnesota lost, and we paid attention to the Angels winning. That’s what the end of September does.”
Zito (15-9, 3.86 ERA) has also been individually successful against the White Sox, going 7-2 with a 3.04 ERA in 11 career starts against them. He did not receive a decision in his lone start against Chicago (84-63) this year, when he yielded one run and four hits over six innings in a 5-4, 10-inning road defeat on May 22.
Zito has fared well in his career against the heart of Chicago’s order. No. 3 hitter Jermaine Dye is 3-for-13, cleanup hitter Jim Thome is 3-for-12 and No. 5 hitter Paul Konerko is 5-for-28 against the left-hander.
The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner has struggled at home this season, though, going 5-7 with a 4.77 ERA and failing to last through the sixth inning in each of his last two outings. Zito was 45-23 with a 3.47 ERA at the Coliseum over his first six seasons.
The White Sox managed only three hits Friday against Esteban Loaiza and three relievers. The loss marked the fourth time in the last five games Chicago has scored three runs or fewer.
Thome is mired in 2-for-20 slump with nine strikeouts and Dye is in a 2-for-17 rut
Athletics designated hitter Frank Thomas went 1-for-4 with a double in his first at-bat in the second inning. Thomas has 36 homers and 98 RBIs in his first year with Oakland after 16 seasons with the White Sox.
“There’s no sweet revenge in beating them,” Thomas said. “I love Chicago. I was happy to play with them.”
Center fielder Mark Kotsay returned to action for Oakland and went 1-for-5 after missing six games due to back problems.
Chicago has lost six straight games started by Javier Vazquez (11-9, 4.71), who is 0-3 with a 3.23 ERA in that span.
He’s pitched exceptionally well in his last two outings, though. Vazquez struck out 11 batters in a three-hit complete-game in a 1-0 loss at Boston on Sept. 5. On Sunday, he limited Cleveland to two runs and five hits over seven innings, but failed to receive a decision in a 5-2 defeat.
“Javy threw the ball outstanding,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I think the last couple outings, Javy has been great.”
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two career starts at the Coliseum. Vazquez beat the A’s for the first time in his career on May 23 at U.S. Cellular Field, when he allowed three runs over six innings of a 9-3 victory.