Bartolo Colon might be having as much fun this year with the Oakland Athletics as he had in any of his previous 14 major league seasons.
Looking to win a fourth straight start, Colon tries to help the visiting A's to a series victory over All-Star Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Colon (9-8, 3.38 ERA) ran his career-high scoreless streak to 22 1/3 innings before he allowed an unearned run in the seventh inning of a 10-4 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday. The right-hander has not yielded an earned run since the fourth inning of a 5-4, 11-inning win over New York on July 22.
The 39-year-old Colon last won four straight starts May 30-July 2, 2011, with the Yankees.
"The name of the game is throwing strikes," teammate Jonny Gomes told the Athletics' official website. "He's been doing it forever. He knows what he's doing. He knows these hitters. He's a lot of fun to play behind."
Colon has certainly enjoyed himself in his first year with Oakland (61-52), contending for its first postseason berth since 2006. The A's scored twice in the eighth inning to rally for a 9-7 win at Chicago on Saturday.
"He really enjoys the game - especially on game day," manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics' official website.
Colon, who pitched for the White Sox in 2003 and 2009, is 10-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 21 starts against them. He allowed solo homers to Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko in seven innings of a 4-0 home loss to Chicago on April 23.
This will be his first appearance since 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field, where Sale (13-3, 2.59) has allowed five runs and struck out 39 over 47 1-3 innings while going 5-0 in six starts since losing to Kansas City there May 12. The left-hander's latest home win came Monday, when he gave up two homers in eight innings of a 4-2 home victory over the Royals.
Sale's last start was his first since July 27, as the club wants to keep the first-year starter fresh for the stretch run and possibly the postseason.
"It gives you a little bit more time to recover and catch your breath, but you've still got a couple of months left,'' he said. "You've just got to keep going with it.''
Sale is 1-0 with a 4.36 ERA in six appearances against the A's. He allowed two runs in eight innings of a 5-4, 14-inning loss April 25 in his only previous start versus Oakland.
Chicago (61-51) overcame a 6-2 deficit Saturday to take a 7-6 lead in the seventh before Gomes tied it with a homer and Brandon Inge later followed with a tiebreaking single in the eighth.
"I guess it just shows two teams that don't want to give up. I like that,'' said Inge, who hopes to play Sunday after he injured his shoulder making a diving stop at third base.
Backup catcher Tyler Flowers had three hits with three RBIs and Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run homer for Chicago, which has dropped three of four but still owns a one-game lead in the AL Central.
A.J. Pierzynski, who added two hits with an RBI, is batting .378 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in his last 10 games. However, he's hit .184 (7 for 38) with one homer versus Colon.
Gomes, who has homered in each of his last two games, is 6 for 17 in his last four overall.