The Chicago White Sox’s continued struggles in Oakland cost them sole possession of first place in the AL Central.
Now they hope John Danks, who has pitched well on the road and has two solid starts this season against the Athletics, can help them bounce back Saturday when they continue the three-game series.
Chicago (68-53) fell to 6-28 against Oakland on the road since 2001 after losing 6-4 to the Athletics (56-65) on Friday. A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin homered in the first inning to give Chicago a 3-0 lead, but Oakland scored twice in the sixth and eighth innings and won on pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki’s walk-off, two-run homer.
“They always play good against us,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We couldn’t get anything going after the first inning. Their pitching held us down. Everybody in this clubhouse knows this was a tough loss. We don’t have to dwell on it.”
The loss dropped the White Sox into a tie for first place in the AL Central with the Minnesota Twins, who beat Seattle at home on Friday. Chicago has lost four straight to the A’s and nine of the last 11 meetings.
“I don’t have any worries about how we are going to show up (Saturday),” Guillen told the White Sox’s official Web site. “This club is good about wiping stuff off and starting over.”
Oakland had lost 14 of its previous 16. Jack Cust had three hits—including a home run. The A’s had scored six runs in a loss to Tampa Bay in their previous game, but had been held to two or fewer runs in the four before that.
“Any time you can get a win against a caliber club like the White Sox are, it’s definitely huge,” said Suzuki.
The White Sox hope to possibly regain sole possession of the division lead when they hand the ball on Saturday to Danks (9-5, 3.18), who is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts against Oakland—all in Chicago. In two outings versus the A’s this season, he’s allowed two runs over a combined 14 innings.
Danks took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Monday against the Red Sox, but he allowed two runs and two hits in that inning, suffering his first loss since May 24 despite matching a season high with nine strikeouts in the 5-1 loss.
“You see this kid throwing the ball real well, then all of a sudden one hitter just turned everything around,” Guillen told the White Sox’s official Web site. “He did a tremendous job once again … and gave us a chance to win. Unfortunately, he (wasn’t) good enough.”
Danks is 5-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 11 road starts this season. He’s won his last four road decisions, although he’s given up four earned runs in each of his last three starts away from Chicago.
Greg Smith (5-11, 3.92) counters for Oakland, looking to win his first start since June 30 against the Angels, going 0-5 with a 5.17 ERA in the seven starts since.
He pitched 4 2-3 innings against Detroit on Sunday, allowing one run and three hits in a 6-1 loss. Smith walked seven and was pulled after throwing 95 pitches.
“My whole body was out of sync. It seemed that my arm was dragging on every pitch,” Smith said. “It was about the third inning that I was able to make adjustment and feel comfortable.”
The rookie left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against the White Sox.