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OAK@CWS: Milone strikes out seven over seven strong

CHICAGO -- By the time Sean Doolittle greeted reporters on Saturday evening, Oakland's left-hander had already gone through video of the inning that cost his team yet another victory.

He watched the way he approached each of his five White Sox batters, four of whom combined for three runs to break a 1-1 tie in the eighth, and left the screening feeling rather confident in his stuff.

"I feel like I made my pitches," Doolittle said. "I just got beat."

As a result, so did the A's by a 4-1 margin, marking just the fourth loss in their last 22 games and first to the White Sox, spanning six games, all season.

The seventh and final contest is to be played Sunday afternoon, and Doolittle will be ready to get back out there if his name's called. Whether his manager has any qualms about using him in the eighth inning, where Doolittle has allowed 10 runs over his last five games after surrendering just two over his first 23 outings, will only depend on if he's physically able to pitch.

Recent performance, Bob Melvin says, won't be a factor.

"Sitting here right now," Melvin said after the loss, "I can still tell you I have confidence in him. I really do."

Doolittle, who relieved a superb Tommy Milone in the eighth, was in a jam from the start, after Alejandro De Aza beat out an infield grounder hit at Jed Lowrie, whose throw to first base was close enough to bring Melvin out of the dugout.

"I thought he was out," Melvin said.

"It was bang-bang," Doolittle said. "It really could've gone either way. I thought Jed made a great play. For me, it was too close to call."

De Aza was ruled safe, and the call paved the way for Alexei Ramirez's sacrifice bunt and an ensuing go-ahead hit off the bat of Alex Rios. Then came two insurance runs courtesy of Paul Konerko, who launched the first pitch he saw from Doolittle into the left-field stands.

"The ball Rios hit was up and away, and that's a ball a lot of guys pop up or foul off or swing through, and I tip my cap to him for that piece of hitting," Doolittle said. "The ball Konerko hit was pretty much off his shoe tops.

"This one's a little bit easier to swallow. It still stinks because of how well Tommy pitched, but I felt really good. I wanted that ball to Rios exactly where I put it, and the ball to Konerko was down, very similar to the one he grounded out the other night."

Up to that point, Milone had limited the White Sox to one run, courtesy of a second-inning solo shot off the bat of Adam Dunn, in seven impressive innings, tallying a career-high 118 pitches along the way.

All the while, Chicago's John Danks held the A's to just one run on three hits in eight frames, retiring the last 21 batters he faced. Josh Donaldson's RBI hit in the first was the lone damage.

"I was just trying to match what Danks was doing," Milone said. "He was going out there and throwing strikes and getting us out. To retire 21 in a row, that's pretty impressive. I was just trying to match him and keep the team in the game."

Milone is among Doolittle's biggest fans and, like each of Oakland's starters, will continue to hand the ball over to him without worry.

"I have a tremendous amount of confidence when he's out there," Milone said. "We all go through these stretches. It's just his time right now. I think he'll be better for it when he comes out of it.

"He came in last year and just started blowing people away, and was doing it this year, and then some runs start scoring, and I think you can look to mechanics and do all that, but I think he just needs to go out there and pitch, and I think he's going to get through it."

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