OAKLAND, Calif. — The White Sox offense still hasn’t worked out all the kinks.
Even though he wasn’t at full strength, Sonny Gray didn’t help matters, either.
The All-Star pitcher and two relievers did enough Wednesday night to send the White Sox to a 2-1 loss in front of 16,468 at the Oakland Coliseum.
Rescheduled after a bout with food poisoning, Gray combined with John Axford and Ryan Madson on a six-hitter to outduel Carlos Rodon. Rodon took the loss even though he only allowed two earned runs and six hits in seven innings and struck out six.
“He’s a damn good pitcher,” White Sox catcher Alex Avila said of Gray. “I asked him, ‘How are you feeling?’ and he said, ‘Not too good.’ It didn’t seem that way.”
[BOX SCORE: Athletics 2, White Sox 1]
The White Sox only had one inning with multiple baserunners and three legitimate chances overall against Gray, who originally was scheduled to pitch Monday’s opener against Chris Sale.
Austin Jackson doubled to start the third inning, advanced on an Adam Eaton grounder and scored on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly that got the White Sox within 2-1.
Jackson also put together a nice at-bat in the fifth inning against Gray with Avila on second. But Jackson lined out to second base on the 10th pitch and Avila was caught leaning for an inning-ending double play.
An inning later, Gray walked Todd Frazier with two outs to put two on for Melky Cabrera. But Gray won again as Cabrera hit a short chopper in front of the mound for the final out.
Gray allowed a run and three hits with four walks in seven innings. He struck out five only two days after he required three bags of fluids during a trip to the emergency room.
The White Sox, who snapped a 10-inning scoreless stretch on Tuesday night, also stranded the tying run in the eighth and ninth innings against Axford and Madson. Through three games, the team has a .297 on-base percentage.
“We were chasing some stuff away,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He had good movement on that when he needed to. Caught us being aggressive and wasn’t throwing strikes when we were looking for strikes. He probably wasn’t feeling that great, but he’s still a very talented pitcher and he has great stuff.”
Rodon settled down after a shaky start.
He allowed runs in the first and second inning before he retired 17 of the last 22 he faced.
“He looked great,” Avila said. “He was effectively wild today. At times he didn’t have the best command, but was able to make enough pitches and get enough strikes to where they were still swinging.”
Oakland swung early against Rodon with first-inning singles by Billy Burns and Khris Davis to put runners on the corners. Jed Lowrie’s sac fly only three batters in made it a 1-0 game.
Then in the second, Mark Canha drove a 91-mph fastball from Rodon on the outer half out to right field for an opposite-field home run and a 2-0 lead.
But Rodon — who allowed 13 earned runs in his final 7 2/3 innings this spring — found a rhythm. He ended the second inning with strikeouts of Yonder Alonso and Marcus Semien and gained steam. Only two more runners reached scoring position in Rodon’s final five innings.
Whereas Rodon walked six batters in his last start in Oakland (last May 15), free passes weren’t an issue on Tuesday. The left-hander continued a trend he began last August of limiting his walks, issuing only one in seven innings. He threw strikes on 61 of 99 pitches.
Still, Rodon desire more from his first start.
“(Canha) hit that ball good,” Rodon said. “I didn’t think it was going to get out. It surprised me. There was some power in it. Then I settled in there and threw well.”
“I like winning. That’s part of it when sometimes things don’t go your way, and that’s baseball. They put the bat on the ball and made things happen early. They made it happen early. I just wish they wouldn’t have.”