OAKLAND (AP) — Mat Latos is still working to get full strength in his legs. That’s to be expected after he dealt with left knee issues the past two seasons.
All the other signs are encouraging for Chicago’s right-hander — and that’s a bonus for manager Robin Ventura’s ballclub.
Latos gave up one hit over six shutout innings for his first win since last July, Jose Abreu hit a two-run homer and the White Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 6-1 on Thursday to give Ventura his 300th career win.
“He was spinning it good, control-wise,” Ventura said. “I started to get a little concerned just endurance-wise because even in spring training he didn’t make it quite as far as he would like. It being for real and being out there, the competitive part came out of him.”
A free agent who struggled this spring after signing with Chicago in the offseason, Latos (1-0) was stellar in his White Sox debut while striking out two and walking one.
He retired 13 of the first 14 batters and didn’t allow a baserunner until Chris Coghlan’s one-out single in the fifth — one pitch after left fielder J.B. Shuck dropped Coghlan’s foul ball.
Afterward, Latos pantomimed flipping pages in a book when asked how much the win meant after what he went through in 2015.
“Last year I had some bad karma from past stuff that was said . then just getting kind of mentally messed up and battling through something I wasn’t used to with the knee,” Latos said. “I wouldn’t say I have 100 percent of my legs under me because of that but I’m healthy, I’m strong.”
Abreu homered on a 1-1 pitch from Oakland starter Kendall Graveman in the sixth. The White Sox slugger added a sacrifice fly during Chicago’s four-run ninth.
It’s been a good start to the season for the White Sox, who outscored the A’s 16-10 while taking three of four in the series.
Zach Duke, Matt Albers, Nate Jones and Zach Putnam combined to pitch the final three innings, completing the four-hitter for Chicago.
Dioner Navarro, Tyler Saladino and Melky Cabrera added RBI singles in the ninth.
Graveman (0-1) pitched well, too, despite being ill with flu-like symptoms earlier this week. He allowed three hits in 5 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and one walk.
“We just didn’t string together enough good at-bats against Latos,” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said. “He pitched really well. We need to be better for Kendall when he’s throwing that well.”
Coghlan singled home Oakland’s lone run in the ninth off Putnam.
STILL THE MAN
There was some uncertainty about who the A’s closer would be after Oakland pitched lefty Sean Doolittle in the first two games and then used right-hander Ryan Madson in Wednesday’s win. Manager Bob Melvin said he’s open to using both relievers in the role depending on the circumstances but was adamant that the job is Doolittle’s. “If there is some matchup in the eighth that would suggest more of a lefty … we would make an adjustment that way,” Melvin said. “But as we sit here Sean’s our closer when you’re breaking down where our bullpen is.”
White Sox: Latos had not won since July 21 with Miami. After leaving the Marlins, he was winless in six games (five starts) for the Dodgers last year and two relief outings with the Angels. … SS Jimmy Rollins was given a planned day off.
Athletics: LHP Felix Doubrant is seeking a second opinion on his injured left elbow. Doubrant has been on the disabled list since getting hurt while pitching in Oakland’s final spring training game. “Until we have a resolution in what we’re doing going forward, I’m not sure yet,” Melvin said when asked what the plan is for the starter.
White Sox: LHP John Danks, who starts Friday’s home opener against Cleveland, needs 14 strikeouts to reach 1,100 with Chicago.
Athletics: LHP Eric Surkamp will be called up from the minors to start in Seattle on Friday.
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