CHICAGO – John Danks wants to show he can be a reliable starter again. How’s this for evidence?
Danks pitched three-hit ball over eight innings for his first victory in more than a year, and the White Sox won for just the second time in 12 games, beating the surging Oakland Athletics 4-1 on Saturday.
“I want to be a stopper,” Danks said. “I want to be a guy that goes out there and can be depended on to give us as good a chance to win as anybody.”
He did just that, and he got just enough support in the end.
Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko homered. Alex Rios drove in the go-ahead run, and the Sox handed the Athletics just their fourth loss in 22 games.
Dunn connected leading off the second to tie the score at 1-all, and it stayed that way until the Sox scored three against the struggling Sean Doolittle (3-1) in the eighth.
Alejandro De Aza led off with an infield single and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Alexei Ramirez before Rios broke the tie with a single to center. Konerko followed with a two-run drive to left.
“The ball Konerko hit was pretty much off his shoetops,” said Doolittle, who’s allowed 10 runs in his last 3 2-3 innings. “So it’s kind of, today they just beat me and I have to tip my hat to them.
The rally made a winner of Danks (1-2), who struck out six and walked one in his fourth start. He retired the final 21 batters he faced on the way to his first win since he beat the Cubs on May 19 last season.
That also turned out to be the final start of the year for Danks, who had surgery in August to repair a capsule tear and remove debris in his rotator cuff and biceps.
“This is more indicative of what you would want to see,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s a competitor always, but with the ability to throw and have location and keep guys off balance and have a feel for the game. When you’re not quite right, he doesn’t have as good a feel for it as he does in the last two starts.”
Danks won a career-high 15 games for the Sox in 2010 and hasn’t reached that level since then. His first three starts were a bit up and down, but this was more like it.
Never mind that his command of the fastball weren’t quite there. He had his curve working, and that was enough to lower his ERA from 5.63 to 4.13.
“His velocity is climbing, it looks like, as he goes, but he’s definitely pitching with less velocity than he’s had when it was years ago,” Konerko said. “But that can be a good thing if he pitches now and learns to do some things that he might have to do. Then if he gets back to where he’s going to get to – which I’m sure he will – now you have both weapons.”
Addison Reed worked a scoreless ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances. It was a big improvement after giving up five runs in a non-save opportunity against Seattle on Wednesday.
Tommy Milone went seven innings for Oakland, allowing one run and four hits, but did not figure in the decision. He struck out seven, walked one, and is 3-0 in his past five starts.
“I was just trying to match what Danks was doing,” he said. “He was going out there throwing strikes and getting us out. To end his night he retired 21 in a row that was pretty impressive. I was trying to match him and keep our team in the game.”
Notes: Ventura expects to fulfill his contract and has no plans to quit if the White Sox overhaul their roster. He’s in the second season of a three-year deal, and his team entered Saturday’s game last in the AL Central at 25-34. “There, for one reason or another, are whispers (that) because it’s going like this, I’m not going to come back,” he said. “That’s the farthest thing from the truth. For me, I’m in it for as long as I’m in it and you go from there. A situation like this, I’d be ashamed to walk away just because it’s tough. I think that’s part of being in it with these guys – that I’m here as much as they are as far as turning it around and being ready to go.” ... Ventura was back managing the Sox after missing two games to attend his daughter’s graduation in California. ... Tony La Russa made it clear he has no desire to return to the dugout. “I had my time,” said the former Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis manager. “I have passed the baton. Now, I see how much fun it is to second guess.” LaRussa was in town for a reception honoring the Sox’s 1983 AL West championship team. ... RHP A.J. Griffin (5-4, 3.67 ERA) starts for Oakland on Sunday, with LHP Hector Santiago (1-4, 3.35) going for the White Sox.