Series: Game 1 of 4

Oakland leads 1-0 (as of 7/15)

Game 1: Thursday, July 15
Chi White Sox2Final
Game 2: Friday, July 16
Chi White Sox1Final
Game 3: Saturday, July 17
Chi White Sox5Final
Game 4: Sunday, July 18
Chi White Sox3Final

White Sox 2

(46-39, 18-22 away)

Athletics 4

(48-39, 28-12 home)

10:05 PM ET, July 15, 2004 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

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W: R. Harden (4-5)

L: J. Garland (7-6)

S: O. Dotel (17)

Harden: Eight innings, four hits

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- With plenty of groundballs and just as much poise, Rich Harden cruised through the longest start of his career in one of Oakland's shortest games of the season.

Harden pitched eight innings of four-hit ball and Eric Chavez homered in his first home game back from an injury, leading the Athletics to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.

After going winless in his final five starts before the All-Star break, Harden (4-5) was in top form. He ripped through Chicago's lineup, retiring his first 13 hitters before Jose Valentin's one-out single to right in the fifth.

He allowed another single in the sixth, but thanks to two double plays, Harden faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings.

While manager Ken Macha praised Harden's mental toughness after giving up Magglio Ordonez's two-run homer in the seventh, Harden credited the win to pure pitching.

"I just kept my fastball down, and that helped me get a lot of early outs," Harden said. "It's natural for a hard thrower. I can go out there and get a lot of groundball outs if I'm concentrating on what I need to be doing."

Harden finished strong, retiring three straight in the eighth inning with his fastball still reaching 95 mph.

"He pitched extremely well, but he's had a couple of games where he's had something happen, and he loses concentration," Macha said. "I think it's a big hurdle for him."

Octavio Dotel pitched the ninth for his third save in five chances since arriving in a trade with Houston last month. The game finished in 2:02, with Harden calling it reminiscent of ace Mark Mulder's speedy starts.

Rookie Bobby Crosby had an RBI double for the A's, who snapped Chicago's four-game winning streak with just their second victory in seven games. Oakland has won 21 of 24 at home.

Ordonez hit his ninth homer -- his first in 83 at-bats -- for the White Sox, who opened a four-game series with a loss, but stayed in first place in the AL Central thanks to Minnesota's loss to Kansas City. Chicago has lost 14 of its last 15 in Oakland, and nobody knows why.

"Every time we play here, we can never win," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We can't ever get enough runs. Every time we face the A's staff, we struggle for runs. We never swing our bats well here."

Jon Garland (7-6) allowed six hits and five walks in seven innings, losing for the third time in five starts. He has allowed just five runs in his last 21 innings, however.

The A's got three runs with just one hit in the fourth. Garland walked Scott Hatteberg and Erubiel Durazo before Crosby's double. Two batters later, Timo Perez made a sprinting catch on Mark Kotsay's fly -- but then threw to first, where no one was covering, allowing Crosby to score when the ball rolled into Chicago's dugout.

"I thought the ump was going against me," Garland said. "I said something about it, but what good will that do?"

Chavez added his 14th homer of the season in the fifth. He missed 33 games with a broken right hand before returning last weekend in Cleveland. He has hit safely in all four games since coming back, going 7-for-14.

Game notes

Ordonez's homer was his 442nd extra-base hit with Chicago, tying him with Carlton Fisk for sixth place on the team's career list. ... Garland is 1-5 this season when allowing a homer, and 6-1 when his opponents don't homer. ... The A's signed four draft choices, including Texas right-hander Huston Street, the 2002 Outstanding Player at the College World Series. ... RHP Tim Hudson played catch Thursday, hoping for a speedy return from his sore oblique muscle. The A's haven't set a timetable for Hudson, who was selected for the All-Star game but unable to pitch.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press