Oakland’s closer was overmatched. Duchscherer’s opponents know the feeling.
“For three years, Duchsherer preached down in the bullpen, ‘I am a much better starter than a reliever. I’m a much better starter than a reliever,”’ Street said after Duchsherer led the Athletics to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. “(It was) to the point where it was ad nauseam, where you just wanted to tell him, ‘Duke. You’re not starting.”’
Well, he is starting—and proving his point.
Javier Vazquez took the loss despite pitching his first complete game in nearly a year and retiring the first 11 batters. Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the first on a leadoff homer by DeWayne Wise and an RBI double by Jermaine Dye, before Duchscherer settled down.
Oakland, which had lost four of five, broke through in the fourth when Cust tied it with a two-run homer, and Murphy made it 3-2 with a solo drive in the fifth.
That was enough for Duchscherer (9-5), the major-league leader with a 1.96 ERA.
“I know I can go out there any given day and they can kick my butt,” he said.
It just isn’t happening, though.
The right-hander held the AL Central leaders to five hits while striking out four and walking two. He has held opponents to two runs or less in all but two of his 14 starts and is 5-1 in his last six outings.
“We thought we had good approach off of him,” Chicago’s A.J. Pierzynski said. “We hit some balls hard, got some deep counts, had some chances but just didn’t cash them in.”
Pierzynski doubled off Alan Embree with one out in the eighth, but Street came in and struck out Carlos Quentin and retired Dye on a grounder to end the threat. Chicago did get a single from Joe Crede with one out in the ninth, but Street struck out Nick Swisher and Alexei Ramirez to end the game for his 16th save in 19 chances.
“He hadn’t pitched in four or five days,” manager Bob Geren said. “The tying run was on second and if they go ahead in that inning, he’s not going to pitch at all. So I’m going to pitch him right there and try to save the inning.”
Vazquez (7-7) was a tough-luck loser on a night when he tied a season-high with 10 strikeouts and pitched his first complete game since last July 8 against Minnesota. He struck out the first four batters and seven of the first nine, walked one and allowed just four hits after seeing his ERA jump from 3.43 to 4.49 over his previous five starts.
He ran into trouble in the fourth when he hit Kurt Suzuki with two out, and Cust drove his 14th homer over the right-field wall to tie it at 2. Murphy connected with two out in the fifth, sending his third homer out to left-center.
“I felt good all game,” Vazquez said. “I’m not going to strike out 24 guys like the way I started. That’s the way it goes, but I felt good all game.”
Duchscherer, meanwhile, continued to strengthen his case for a spot on the All-Star team after making it as a reliever in 2005.
“We’ve got a lot of qualified guys, and if I’m the one who’s chosen, it would be great,” he said. “To me, it’s just gratifying to know that I’d wanted to start for awhile and I heard some people say, ‘Can he get through a lineup three, four times?”’
Oakland SS Bobby Crosby missed his first game of the season with a strained left hamstring and is day-to-day. “It’s better today,” Crosby said. “It’s a little sore but it’s definitely better.” … An MRI exam on 3B Eric Chavez revealed inflammation in his right shoulder. He went on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday and will start rehab work in two weeks, manager Bob Geren said. … Wes Bankston got his first major league hit when he singled to center in the seventh. … Chicago’s Paul Konerko, out with a strained left oblique, hopes to come off the disabled list early next week after a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte this weekend. … White Sox closer Bobby Jenks said the soreness he has felt lately just under his left shoulder is improving with rest and does not expect to go on the disabled list.