OAKLAND — Oakland’s pitchers are on a roll again and the Athletics are winning with a similar formula to the one that carried them to a surprising AL West crown last fall.
Josh Donaldson’s sixth-inning sacrifice fly ended a career-best 28-inning scoreless streak by Chicago starter Chris Sale, and the A’s shut out the White Sox for the second time in three games with a 2-0 win Sunday for a weekend sweep.
“We know that these guys have been scuffling as of late and we wanted to come out and we wanted to bury them,” A’s catcher Derek Norris said. “The last thing you want to do is give a team that’s struggling a chance to come back and make a run.”
Jarrod Parker (4-6) hung tough in an impressive pitcher’s duel with Sale to win back-to-back starts for the first time this year. The right-hander matched his season high with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings as Oakland won for the ninth time in 11 games.
The A’s swept a third straight home series to run their unbeaten run in the Coliseum to eight games, the longest winning streak at home since a 10-gamer from Aug. 11 to Sept. 1, 2006.
Two days after 40-year-old Bartolo Colon’s five-hit gem Friday night, Parker shined.
“I think it’s something where we feed off each other,” Parker said. “This team is built around pitching and defense.”
Sale (5-3) lost for the first time in six starts since an April 18 defeat at Toronto. The White Sox (24-30) lost their season-high sixth in a row and matched a season-worst by falling to six games below .500.
Sale’s 28-inning stretch without allowing a run was the longest by a White Sox pitcher since Wilson Alvarez went 31 scoreless innings from Sept. 11-27, 1993.
The streak by Sale nearly ended last Tuesday, when he pitched three innings against the Cubs before the game was rained out — keeping the run going for at least one more start as the rainout stats don’t count.
“I’m glad it’s over so we can stop talking about it and get back to normal baseball business and go to Seattle and turn this thing around,” Sale said. “I just flat out got outpitched by Parker. Losing a game like this is tough, being shut out. But don’t think for a second that I’ve lost faith or anybody else in here has lost faith in what we know we can do.”
Coco Crisp drew a leaodff walk in the sixth, then Jed Lowrie singled as Crisp went to third. Sale received a mound visit from pitching coach Don Cooper before facing Yoenis Cespedes. The Cuban star was called out on an 80 mph curveball, then Donaldson had plenty on his flyball to right to bring home Crisp.
Crisp scored again in the eighth when freshly called up center fielder Jordan Danks misplayed Lowrie’s single for an error.
Facing a left-handed starter for the seventh time in 10 games, Oakland did just enough a day after stranding 18 runners in a 4-3, 10-inning victory.
The slumping White Sox missed more chances in the finale.
Adam Dunn hit a two-out double in the fourth that hit at the top of the wall as center fielder Crisp tried to make a play but didn’t track it to where it landed and was not in the right place.
But Parker struck out Casper Wells to end the inning moments later. Parker allowed two hits in 6 1-3 innings with two walks. Jerry Blevins got one out in the sixth, Ryan Cook struck out three of the four batters he faced, then Grant Balfour finished the three-hit shutout for his 13th save in as many chances and 31st in a row dating to last season.
Watching the starters do their thing has been fun for Balfour and his bullpen mates.
“We love it down there,” he said. “It makes our jobs a lot easier. Parker’s been on a little role here now.”
Sale lost for the first time in his career against an AL West opponent, dropping to 10-1. He would have become the only pitcher in baseball history to win his first 11 career decisions against the division, according to STATS.
He is the first White Sox pitcher to go six or more innings with two or fewer earned runs in seven straight starts since Gavin Floyd from June 8 to July 10, 2010.
“It’s tough when you’re a pitcher and you can’t give up a run,” White Sox skipper Robin Ventura said.
Chicago first baseman and designated hitter Paul Konerko sat out with a recurring stiff neck, but he expects to be back in the lineup Monday at Seattle.
Notes: Oakland is 9-1 in a stretch with 17 games in as many days. The A’s go to Milwaukee, where they are set to face three straight righty starters. ... Ventura will miss games against the A’s in Chicago next Thursday and Friday to attend his daughter’s high school graduation. Bench coach Mark Parent will manage the team Thursday, then he leaves for Friday and Saturday’s games for a family graduation of his own. Cooper will manage Friday. ... Sale lost for only the fifth time in his career during the first half (17-5). ... Chicago bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen went 27 1-3 scoreless innings from Aug. 10 to Sept. 20, 1986.