From the moment he started matching zeroes Sunday with A’s right-hander Jarrod Parker, Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale knew that the first team to score a run probably would win.
“Obviously with what he features and what he’s done in the past, he’s good,” Sale said of Parker. “You got to be on your ‘A’ game.”
Parker produced his fifth straight quality start, blanking the White Sox for 6 1/3 innings on two hits. Parker and relievers Jerry Blevins, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour combined for a shutout, and the A’s beat the Chicago White Sox 2-0 at the O.co Coliseum, completing a sweep of their three-game series.
Sale threw a gem but saw his four-game winning streak come to an end. Sale entered the game with a career-high streak of 23 consecutive scoreless innings, and he extended that streak to 28 before the A’s scored a run in the sixth. .
“It’s fun,” Parker said of his duel with Sale. “I didn’t know he even had a scoreless streak until someone mentioned it. Obviously we know coming into this game it’s going to be a battle, and we got to try to scratch a few here or there, and we did a great job of just staying on it all day and not giving up, not checking out early.”
Coco Crisp worked a leadoff walk in the sixth and moved to third when Jed Lowrie lined a single to center. Sale struck out Yoenis Cespedes, who took a backdoor slider for strike three. But third baseman Josh Donaldson, the A’s cleanup hitter, brought Crisp home with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The A’s added a run in the eighth off reliever Addison Reed. Crisp singled, went to third on Lowrie’s hit-and-run single and raced home when center fielder Jordan Danks bobbled Lowrie’s hard shot.
Parker struck out seven and walked two. Adam Dunn, who doubled high off the center-field wall with two outs in the fourth, was the only White Sox batter who got past first base against Parker. Parker struck out Casper Wells for the third out, stranding Dunn.
Balfour recorded his 31st straight save opportunity, pitching a scoreless ninth.
“It feels like it’s the Jarrod we’re used to seeing,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “When he gets hit around a little bit, it’s surprising. He went through a tough stretch for him, but sometimes that makes you a little tougher and a little bit better as it goes along. If things came easy all the time, then you wouldn’t find that tenacity when you need to find it. When you struggle some you find out a little bit more about yourself and you find that tenacity that you need to be successful.”
The A’s won their eighth straight home game and triumphed for the 14th time in their past 16 games overall.
“It’s contagious, winning,” Balfour said. “You see a guy get a big hit, the next guy comes up and does his job. You’re going to have your battles some nights. But that little thing, whatever it is, to get over the edge, seems like we’re doing it right now.”
The White Sox, meanwhile, lost their sixth straight game, their longest skid of the season, and fell to 0-5 on their eight-game road trip. They managed just three hits Sunday and were shut out for the sixth time this season and second time in three days by the A’s.
“It’s frustrating, but you got to keep your head up and keep competing,” White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie said. “It will come around, and if it doesn’t, I’m sure there will be changes. I don’t know what else to say. It seems like all their (pitchers) did a good job.”
Before facing the A’s, Sale had gone 4-0 in his previous five starts with a 1.18 ERA and a .151 opponents batting average. During that stretch he shut out the Angels on one hit in a 3-0 White Sox win on May 17.
Sale was scratched from his scheduled start on May 22 against Boston because of tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. He pitched three innings Tuesday against the Cubs before that game was called because of rain. His fastball was clocked as fast as 95 mph, and his arm felt “strong” during that stint. Sale gave up a two-run homer to the Cubs’ Welington Castillo in the second inning of that game, but the rain wiped away those runs and kept his scoreless inning streak intact.
“I felt good,” Sale said. “I felt loose. I felt like I had pretty good command of all my pitches. It just got away.”