OAKLAND, Calif. -- Robin Ventura doesn’t go on long, curse-filled tirades like his predecessor.
He’s rather reserved when it comes to criticism of his team.
Although Friday’s heartiest rip lasted all of a few words, believe it: Ventura is not pleased with the White Sox performance. Shortly after he watched his team waste a gem of a performance by starter Dylan Axelrod in a 3-0 loss to the Oakland A’s, the second-year manager offered up this summation.
“We stink,” Ventura said.
Ventura isn’t lying. An already struggling offense continued to slump on its way to a fourth straight loss Friday in front of 16,416 at the Oakland Coliseum as Bartolo Colon outpitched Axelrod, twirling a five-hit shutout.
It’s the fifth time in 52 games the White Sox -- a team that finished last season fourth in the American League in runs scored -- have been blanked by the opposition and the 26th time they have scored three runs or fewer. Colon also became the first 40-year-old pitcher to throw a shutout in the majors since Curt Schilling on June 7, 2007.
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“Seems like it’s been a theme this year,” said cleanup man Adam Dunn, who went 1-for-3. “Our pitching kept us in pretty much every game except a few all year, but we’re just not able to get anything going offensively. A lot of it has to do with tonight. (Colon) went out and shoved it. But we got to find a way to get on base, some way and start creating things.”
Oakland didn’t create anything until the eighth inning against Axelrod.
Up until that point he had retired 21 of 23 batters and needed just 90 pitches to do so.
But consecutive doubles by John Jaso and Josh Reddick to start the inning broke a scoreless tie. Jaso stayed back on a 2-2 backdoor cutter and lined it the opposite way into left-center for a leadoff double and Reddick yanked a 1-0 curveball to the wall in right for a 1-0 lead, ending Axelrod’s night. Coco Crisp provided Oakland insurance with a two-run single off reliever Jesse Crain.
That was plenty for Colon, who threw strikes on 77 of 106 pitches, including 21 of 30 first pitches to hitters.
Eleven years to the day since he last shutout the White Sox, Colon stymied them again. The White Sox hit two early balls hard off Colon, who earlier this season was reinstated after a 50-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, but not much after.
He struck out three and the White Sox never had a man reach scoring position.
“Bartolo was throwing great,” Ventura said. “The way we're swinging it offensively might have helped him out a little bit, but he's still a good pitcher and pitched a great game. I just think right now, especially after the last three games to come and get this, a pitcher can't give up a run just the way we're playing offensively.”
Axelrod -- who gave up four hits and two runs over seven-plus innings -- retired the first eight men he faced as he baffled Oakland hitters with an assortment of breaking balls and a well-located fastball.
The right-hander also used an effective changeup to induce all kinds of ugly swings from an A’s offense that ranks fifth in the American League in runs scored.
Axelrod had at least one strikeout in each of his first six innings and rarely allowed any hard-hit balls early. When he did, Axelrod, who finished with seven strikeouts, was aided by his defense as Jeff Keppinger made a nice stop in the fourth inning and Alex Rios had a nice grab in the seventh.
It was the ninth time in 11 starts this season where Axelrod allowed three runs or fewer.
“It seemed like both of us didn’t have much rest on the benches,” Axelrod said. “It was fun. (Colon) 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. … Wins and losses are a funny thing. Baseball’s tough, you know.”
Especially when the offense stinks.