OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Dylan Axelrod walked slowly to the Chicago White Sox dugout, sat on the bench and put his hands over his head while he watched his three-game winning streak end.
At 27 years old, Axelrod just marveled at the other man on the mound.
Bartolo Colon tossed a five-hitter a week after turning 40 as the Oakland Athletics handed the White Sox their fourth straight loss, 3-0 on Friday night in a game that took only 2 hours, 14 minutes.
“Baseball’s funny,” Axelrod said.
Axelrod gave up four hits and struck out seven in seven-plus innings. John Jaso was the first baserunner for either team to reach second when he doubled against Axelrod (3-4) leading off the eighth.
Josh Reddick followed with an RBI double after coming off the disabled list before the game, and Coco Crisp added a two-run single to back Colon’s stellar start.
“He’s a good one and it was fun,” Axelrod said. “It seemed like both of us didn’t have much rest on the benches. It was fun. He was out there for a few and then I was out there. I can’t ask for anything more. It was just one of those things at the end there.”
Colon (6-2) struck out three and walked none for his 11th career shutout. He has 34 complete games, third-most among active pitchers behind Roy Halladay (67) and CC Sabathia (35).
He also became the first American League pitcher with a shutout after age 40 since Boston’s Curt Schilling won 1-0 at Oakland on June 7, 2007, according to the A’s.
“I feel proud to pitch the way that I did,” Colon said in Spanish.
Jaso said he realized Colon’s control was especially on target when he kept calling for the one spot on the pitching report not to throw to slugger Adam Dunn — on the outer half of the plate — and it worked so well.
“It just showed the movement on his ball,” Jaso said. “The guy’s eyes would light up because that’s his pitch to hit, then it moves off the plate, but he’s already committed to it.”
It was Colon’s first nine-inning shutout since leading the Yankees past the A’s 5-0 on May 30, 2011. He also pitched a rain-shortened three-hitter over seven innings against Boston on April 23.
Colon, who received a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test last August and missed the playoffs for the AL West champions, looked as spry as ever on the mound in front of an announced crowd of 16,416 at the Oakland Coliseum.
While the A’s struggled at the plate, Colon continued to pound the strike zone and challenge hitters. He threw 106 pitches — 77 for strikes — and hasn’t walked a batter in eight of his 11 starts this season.
For a while, it appeared that Axelrod might not allow the A’s to give Colon any support.
Axelrod retired his first eight batters until Eric Sogard’s single to right. Then he set down the next 12 before Seth Smith’s two-out single in the seventh.
“He was good. He just wasn’t as good as theirs,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Both pitchers relied on their defense, too, for several spectacular plays.
Sogard backhanded a hard-hit grounder up the middle in the seventh and tossed the ball to shortstop Jed Lowrie, who fired it to first to complete a double play. Lowrie led off the top of the inning with a deep fly to right field, where Alex Rios ran underneath the ball for a catch near the top of the wall.
Reddick showed off the defensive skills that won him a Gold Glove last year when he made a running basket catch near the foul line for the first out of the eighth. Then he followed with his first hit since coming back, easily the biggest of the night.
Axelrod was replaced by Matt Thornton following Reddick’s double.
“It seems like it’s kind of been a theme this year — our pitching’s kept us in pretty much every ballgame except a few all year, and we’re just not able to get anything going offensively,” Dunn said. “We’ve got to find a way to get on base somehow, someway and start creating things.”
NOTES: White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham made his second consecutive rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte. He went 1 for 5 and singled home the winning run in the ninth inning for a 3-2 win over Rochester. … The White Sox went 14-13 in May after going 10-15 in April. … Dan Straily (3-2, 5.08 ERA) starts for the A’s opposite White Sox lefty Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.75 ERA) in the middle game of the series Saturday.
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