OAKLAND (CBS / AP) — Sonny Gray overcame lingering effects of a stomach flu and managed a quality start his team needed.
Gray pitched seven strong innings, Mark Canha homered and the Oakland Athletics beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1 Wednesday night to get their first win of the season.
Gray, scratched from an opening-day start because of the illness, gave up a run and three hits, walking four and striking out five.
“I felt OK,” Gray said. “I still feel a little beat but I wanted to go out and try to make pitches. This was a pretty important game. You don’t want to start 0-3.”
Gray began to drag a bit after recording the first out of the seventh, but maintained just enough to get three groundouts in the inning.
“We’ve seen him pitch that type of game often,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “After a couple of losses, he gets more inspired to go out and work deep into games. It took a little out of him but he stepped up.”
According to White Sox catcher Alex Avila, Gray didn’t look tired.
“Damn good pitcher. I asked him today, `How you feeling?’ and he goes `Not too good,”‘ Avila said. “It didn’t seem that way. He’s got a lot of confidence in everything he throws. It’s a hang-with-him type of day. You try to survive against guys like that.”
John Axford pitched a scoreless eighth and Ryan Madsen got the final three outs for his first save. Madsen’s last four saves have come against the White Sox.
Chicago starter Carlos Rodon gave up two runs and seven hits over seven innings. He walked one and stuck out six.
Jed Lowrie also had an RBI for the A’s and Jimmy Rollins drove in a run for Chicago.
Adam Eaton singled twice and walked, reaching base safely in 25 consecutive games dating to last Sept. 9.
Billy Burns had two hits for the A’s.
WHAT A RELIEF
Madsen, who recorded just his fourth save since 2011, said the challenge of finishing a close game gave him a boost.
“In spring training, I breezed through it,” Madsen said. “This was probably the first challenge I’ve had. My arm came alive out there.”
Madsen recorded 32 saves for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011 and was out of baseball until joining the Kansas City Royals last season.
He threw a 3-2 changeup for the final out.
“I’ve done it a bunch, but in a new league, it’s probably not as recognizable now,” he said. “It was the right pitch at the right time and it was available.”
RHP Henderson Alvarez threw 25 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday, facing hitters for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery.
“I felt good,” Alvarez said. “I was very happy to get back out there and get into a rhythm.”
Alvarez, expected to return in late May, will pitch live batting practice at Single-A Stockton on Sunday as he looks to pitch in the majors for the first time since last May 22.
White Sox: INF Jimmy Rollins will get the day off Thursday. “We don’t want Jimmy playing every day,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “It has nothing to do with ability and he came in great shape. It’s just age.” … OF Melky Cabrera will switch positions with DH Avisail Garcia on Thursday.
Athletics: LHP Eric Surkamp will be recalled after Thursday’s game and start for the A’s on Friday in Seattle’s home opener. Surkamp appeared in 35 games, out of the bullpen, with the White Sox in 2014. “He’s got a nice, easy delivery,” Ventura said. “He came in and did good work for us.” … INF Eric Sogard (neck) will stay in Oakland to continue rehabbing.
White Sox: RHP Mat Latos makes his Chicago White Sox and Oakland Coliseum debut in Thursday’s series finale against the A’s. The seven-year veteran is 4-11, with a 4.74 ERA in 24 April starts. Lowrie is 5 for 8 against him, including two home runs.
Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman, who was sent home with the flu Tuesday night, makes the start on Thursday. Graveman, who said he lost about 12 pounds because of the illness, has never faced the White Sox.
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