CHICAGO -- John Danks
took the mound again for the Chicago White Sox
and looked like himself against the Oakland Athletics
After missing the first two months of the season trying to build arm strength in his surgically-repaired left shoulder, Danks hadn't won in his first three starts since coming off the disabled list May 24 against the Miami Marlins
Danks made sure that changed in his fourth start by pitching eight strong innings and picking up the win in a 4-1 victory by the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field - completing a trying comeback from the surgery.
"I battled through a lot in the spring and just like they told me, the more time and the more (strength) I get, the better I'll be," Danks said. "It's still a process. There'll be days I don't feel great and I'm fully prepared for that, but so far it feels great out there. Nothing's bothering me. I'm able to throw all four pitches and I'd like to be depended on to go 110 to 130 (pitches a start) like the rest of the guys are."
Danks (1-2) quickly turned a tough start to the game into a dominating performance.
After allowing a run on two hits and a walk in the first inning, he retired the next 21 hitters to set the stage for Chicago to surge ahead with three runs in the eighth. Danks allowed one run on three hits in those eight innings, striking out six and walking one. Addison Reed picked up his 18th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
"I feel fortunate to only give up one after the first couple (hitters)," Danks said. "It was a struggle. It was a grind out there really. I just had trouble getting the ball down. My changeup didn't feel great, but I felt like I was able to make enough pitches to get out of it. Once I was able to settle in, I felt pretty good about things."
He felt even better after watching his teammates come through at the plate in the eighth. Alex Rios singled home Alejandro De Aza to give the Sox a 2-1 lead before Paul Konerko launched his sixth home run of the season into the left-field seats to put Danks in position to pick up his first win of the season.
"We've had a lot of our pitchers this year throw good outings and not get a win, but for John it definitely feels a little more meaningful just because he's a guy coming back off surgery and he's trying to get back on track as far as just being a starter," Konerko said. "He seems like he's getting better each time out and you don't want to waste one when a guy goes out and throws one like that."
It was also the first win of the season against Oakland for the White Sox in six tries.
Chicago came into the game with losses in 10 of its previous 11 games and seemed destined to lose close games after having potential game-changing home runs erased by A's outfielders in the first two games of this four-game weekend series. Danks and some clutch hitting gave the White Sox something to feel good about for a change. Adam Dunn also hit a home run for the White Sox as part of his 2-for-3 performance. Tommy Milone
started for the A's and got no decision, while reliever Sean Doolittle took the loss by allowing all three runs in the eighth. Doolittle pitched well on Friday night, but has struggled of late. A's manager Bob Melvin, however, doesn't plan on removing him from his eighth-inning setup role.
"I thought he threw the ball good," Melvin said. "It's not like his stuff is bad. Sitting here right now I will tell you I have still have confidence him. I really do."
Milone, who lasted seven innings and allowed one run, reversed a trend in his starts by having a strong outing in a day game played before nightfall. Before this game, he was 0-3 with a 6.27 ERA in three daytime starts and 6-2 with a 3.14 ERA in nine night outings.
Locked in a pitching duel with Danks on Saturday, Milone struck out seven, walked one and allowed only four hits before giving way to the bullpen. Danks just outpitched him enough to earn the win.
"I think he just kind of got into a rhythm, caught a few breaks throughout the game," A's third baseman Josh Donaldson said of Danks. "Obviously he retired 21 in a row ... so tip your hat to the guy. He pitched a good game."
Oakland got on the board right away against Danks. The A's made it 1-0 in their half of the first inning on a walk and two singles, the second by Josh Donaldson to drive in Coco Crisp. Jed Lowrie's double-play grounder saved Danks from giving up more.
Dunn then knotted the score, 1-1, with his 14th home run of the season to lead off the third, a towering, 429-foot shot off Milone that sailed over the fence in straightaway center field before smacking off the ivy-covered batter's eye.
Milone and Danks, however, settled into a rhythm after allowing the runs. Danks allowed a single by Nate Freiman and didn't allow another one the rest of his outing. Following Dunn's home run, Milone also put it on cruise control with the exception of two minor situations he escaped from in the fourth and seventh -- stranding runners at first and second both times.
NOTES: White Sox manager Robin Ventura returned for Saturday's game from a two-game absence for a family graduation in California. Ventura also addressed rumors that he might consider leaving his job either this year or after his contract runs out following the 2014 season. The White Sox came into Saturday's game nine games under .500 and losers in 10 of the previous 11 games. "For one reason or another there's a whisper (that) because it's going like this. I'm not going to come back. That's the furthest thing from the truth. For me, I'm in it for as long as I'm in it and then you go from there. A situation like this, I'd be ashamed to walk away just because it's tough. That's part of being in it with these guys. I'm here as much as they are, as far as turning it around and being ready to go." ... A's manager Bob Melvin said OF Chris Young
wasn't able to start Saturday because he was sick. Melvin did not have a timetable for Young's return. ... Melvin said the A's will get a better read on the progression of LHP Brett Anderson's broken right foot when they get back to Oakland next week.
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