CHICAGO (AP)—John Danks kept hitting his target, just as he’s been doing all season. The only spot he missed Sunday was one on the All-Star team.
Danks pitched like he belonged, setting a career-high with nine strikeouts as the Chicago White Sox handed Rich Harden his first loss in a year while hanging on to beat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 for their 10th win in 13 games.
“I really felt like we needed a split in the series,” Danks said.
Danks (6-4) took a no-hitter into the sixth as the White Sox salvaged a four-game split after dropping the first two.
Crede drove in Quentin with a bases-loaded walk in the first and scored on Alexei Ramirez’s single during a two-run fourth that made it 3-0. Quentin came through with a leaping catch at the left-field wall with one out in the sixth to rob Mark Ellis of an extra-base hit after Gregorio Petit led off with a single.
Danks escaped that jam but couldn’t get out of the seventh.
He allowed a leadoff double to Emil Brown and one-out single by Daric Barton before Rob Bowen drove a two-run double down the left-field line. That chased Danks, who left to loud cheers after allowing four hits and walking two in holding the opponent to two runs or less for the 15th time in 18 starts.
He’ll have to wait for his first All-Star invitation, though. Not that he expected one, with eight no-decisions.
“The wins weren’t there,” he said. “Team wins are there, which is what we’re really focused on.”
The latest win turned into a nailbiter.
Octavio Dotel came in for Danks and struck out Jack Hannahan, but the drama continued as Petit walked and Crede misplayed Rajai Davis’ one-hopper to load the bases. Ellis then grounded to third to end the rally.
Matt Thornton allowed a bloop single to Wes Bankston but struck out two during a scoreless eighth. With closer Bobby Jenks still nursing soreness below his left shoulder, the White Sox turned to Linebrink in the ninth and there was more drama.
He allowed a one-out single by Hannahan, and the trouble mounted. Pinch hitter Kurt Suzuki singled off Crede’s glove with two out, and Mark Ellis drove in Hannahan with a single to center before Cust flied out.
“We were right there, one swing,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “I thought the ball that Jack hit was going to be a home run. I really did.”
Dye caught it about 10 feet from the warning track, giving Linebrink his first save in three chances, and the White Sox closed out an 8-2 homestand that included three-game sweeps of the Cubs and Cleveland.
“It’s huge,” Pierzynski said. “We played well against three pretty good teams. … Oakland’s a good team. They’re not going to go away. They don’t quit. They’re young. They might not have the big names, but they’ve got some good players.”
It was a rough day for Harden (5-1), who struggled with his control in his first loss since last July 7. He allowed three runs and five hits in five innings while striking out four and walking four.
Dominant when healthy, Harden labored from the start.
His problems started when Quentin reached on a throwing error by Petit, the shortstop, with two out in the first. Jermaine Dye singled, Jim Thome and Crede walked to force in the first run, and the White Sox tacked on two more in the fourth.
“I threw a lot of pitches in that first inning which definitely cost me an inning,” Harden said. “It seemed like there were always runners on in every inning. I was just missing some spots. It was just one of those days.”
Dye is one of five players on the final vote ballot, and the White Sox wasted no time campaigning for him, passing out red, white and blue signs and T-shirts encouraging fans to vote for him. RHP Justin Duchscherer was Oakland’s lone selection. … OF Carlos Gonzalez missed his second straight game with a tight right hamstring, and the Athletics held OF Ryan Sweeney (swollen left ankle) out of the lineup. … INF Donnie Murphy, who had filled in at shortstop for the injured Bobby Crosby, was out of the starting lineup with soreness in his right elbow.