Athletics 2, White Sox 1
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Mark Ellis had been having a rough night. He grounded out with a runner on third who wound up stranded, and then Ellis committed a three-base fielding error.
All of that can be forgotten.
Ellis singled off the left-field scoreboard with the bases loaded in the ninth after pinch-hitter Todd Walker tied the game on a base hit, lifting the Oakland Athletics past the Chicago White Sox 2-1 on Tuesday night.
“My night wasn’t going very well to say the least,” Ellis said. “Whenever you let the team down, it’s nice to get another opportunity. … Hopefully this will turn our offense around. We’ve been facing good pitching but it’s only so long you can say that.”
Huston Street (1-0) pitched one perfect inning for the win on a night when Jon Garland allowed three hits in seven shutout innings and Juan Uribe gave the White Sox the lead on a fifth-inning single. A’s fill-in starter Chad Gaudin also had a strong day, and Oakland bounced back following a 4-1 defeat with ace Rich Harden on the mound Monday night.
“Awesome,” Gaudin said of the rally. “That’s the story of our team. We couldn’t catch any breaks and tonight we got some.”
Still, the A’s have scored two or fewer runs in each of their last five games, the longest such streak for the club since Aug. 20-24, 1980.
Gaudin might have earned himself another chance with 5 2-3 innings in which he matched his career high of six strikeouts. He allowed only three hits and one run while walking three.
The right-hander didn’t have a baserunner until Scott Podsednik’s leadoff single in the fourth. He got through three innings on 38 pitches and had a strikeout every inning.
After A.J. Pierzynski grounded out starting the fifth, Gaudin gave up a walk to Alex Cintron before back-to-back singles from Rob Mackowiak and Uribe. Gaudin then struck out Podsednik swinging and got Darin Erstad to ground out.
Gaudin was moved into the rotation in place of the injured Esteban Loaiza, who began the season on the disabled list with an injury in his neck and upper back. Podsednik singled to left-center over the outstretched glove of leaping shortstop Bobby Crosby for the first runner off Gaudin.
Either Gaudin or left-hander Joe Kennedy, who will start against Mark Buehrle in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, will have their turn skipped next week as the A’s adjust their rotation around a pair of off days.
For as much as Oakland stressed situational hitting all spring, the defending AL West champions have struggled in key situations so far—aside from Ellis’ clutch effort. The A’s were batting .189 (14-for-74) with runners in scoring position coming into Tuesday night and missed more chances. Oakland had runners on first and second with one out in the first but couldn’t capitalize.
After Buck’s triple led off the fifth, the A’s left him, too. Garland retired the final nine batters he faced after that hit, giving way to Mike MacDougal to start the eighth.
A’s manager Bob Geren was talking to bench coach Bob Schaefer and hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo about how the players might actually be trying to do too much.
“They really want to get the job done, almost to the point of pressing,” Geren said. “You can’t argue the effort, but maybe they’re trying too hard. A couple of big hits like that late can get some momentum going.”
Milton Bradley singled off Jenks to start the ninth and extended his hitting streak against Chicago to 23 games, while Mike Piazza followed with a single. Piazza is 12-for-24 with three doubles, a home run and four multihit games over his last six contests after starting his new gig as a full-time designated hitter 1-for-12.
“You never want to go out there and give up the leadoff hit,” Jenks said. “That’s number one, make sure you get that guy. The only pitch I’m upset about is the one to Walker, that curveball. We could have been out of the game with a win if I just put that in the dirt.”
Ellis his error in the seventh on a tough shallow fly in right by Cintron, snapping a 39-inning errorless streak for the second baseman.
Podsednik stole his second base in as many nights, showing all signs that he’s completely healthy following surgery for a sports hernia Jan. 23. … Oakland’s Nick Swisher drew his 10th walk of the year and has reached base in every game… White Sox 2B Tadahito Iguchi is nursing a bruised finger but was available. … Chicago RF Jermaine Dye got his first day off of the season after playing the initial six contests, and Erstad will rest Wednesday and Brian Anderson will play CF.