OAKLAND, Calif. -- If their bullpen keeps pitching like this, the Chicago White Sox could end up being a factor in the American League wild card race after all.
Four relievers combined for 5 2/3 shutout innings, and Alexei Ramirez led off the 10th inning with a home run as Chicago managed an 8-7 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night after blowing a six-run lead.
"That's key for us," said closer Bobby Jenks, who pitched a scoreless 10th for his 24th save. "We've got one of the better bullpens in baseball. In a game like this that kind of got out of hand early on both sides, being able to shut down a team is extremely important."
D.J. Carrasco and Matt Thornton combined to give up just one hit in 3 2-3 innings before Octavio Dotel (2-3) struck out the side in the eighth in his only inning to get the win. Jenks gave up two hits in the ninth -- ending a streak of 15 straight batters retired by Chicago's bullpen -- then held on for the save.
"Our bullpen has been a big part of our success this year," Carrasco said. "When a team's scoring you have to come in and hold them. It's something we take pride in."
Ramirez, whose ninth-inning home run lifted Chicago to a 3-1 win over Seattle on Tuesday, hit an 0-2 pitch from Craig Breslow (4-4) over the fence in left field to help the White Sox to just their fourth win in their last 16 road games.
They did it despite blowing the big lead and yet another rough outing by Jose Contreras.
The struggling right-hander cruised through the first three innings before the wheels came off in the fourth when Oakland scored five runs. Scott Hairston homered leading off, Mark Ellis added a bases-loaded double to drive in three runs and Cliff Pennington added an RBI single that cut Chicago's lead to 6-5.
The A's scored twice in the fifth to take their first lead and chase the 37-year-old, who could be headed to the bullpen after his latest rough outing. Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen mentioned before the game the White Sox were considering that as an option, and Contreras certainly didn't help his cause to stay in the rotation after giving up seven runs, six earned, in 4 1/3 innings.
Guillen, however, softened his stance afterward.
"Maybe tomorrow I'll change my mind but right now we have to keep running him out there," Guillen said. "Right now I don't have a better answer for next time for Jose."
Oakland lost for the fourth time in the last 11 games.
"They found some holes on some medium- to soft-hit grounders that found holes, and then they hit the ball pretty hard," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "In [Breslow's] case it was truly just one pitch, it really was. But we have to score ourselves."
Oakland's Brett Anderson, who had a 23-inning scoreless streak earlier this season, gave up three straight singles to start the game and fell behind 2-0 in the first. He gave up four runs in the second when Chicago batted around.
Castro's two-run homer highlighted the inning for the White Sox while Dye added a two-run single as Chicago took a 6-0 lead.
Over his last six starts Contreras is 0-4 with two no-decisions and a 7.63 ERA. ... Hairston's home run was his 15th of the season and fifth since joining the A's in a trade with San Diego on July 5. ... Oakland's Rajai Davis stole second base in the fifth inning, marking 10 straight games in which the A's have had at least one steal. It's their longest streak since 1988. ... Chicago RHP Jake Peavy pitched three shutout innings in the minors on Thursday but Guillen says the White Sox will continue to take a cautious approach. Peavy, acquired in a trade with San Diego on July 31, hasn't pitched in the majors since June 8. ... Chicago placed IF Chris Getz on the 15-day DL with a strained right oblique muscle and called up IF Brent Lillibridge from Triple-A Charlotte.