CHICAGO (AP) — Everything was going just fine for the Oakland Athletics. And then?
“The circus came to town,” Josh Donaldson said.
That’s one way to look at it.
Avisail Garcia drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth inning, and the Chicago White Sox beat the struggling Athletics 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Oakland was in line for the win after Jeff Samardzija threw seven scoreless innings, and Adam Dunn singled in a run against his former team.
Instead, the A’s lost for the 10th time in 13 games because the bullpen failed again to protect a lead.
Luke Gregerson (4-4) came on in the eighth, and things quickly fell apart. It was the third time in four games that the Athletics’ relievers blew a lead.
Gregerson gave up a leadoff single to Carlos Sanchez, and first baseman Nate Freiman threw wildly trying to force pinch-runner Leury Garcia at second after fielding Adam Eaton’s grounder.
The runners moved to second and third with one out when Gregerson bounced an 0-2 pitch to Jose Abreu before striking him out. He intentionally walked Conor Gillaspie to load the bases, and Garcia lined a pitch up the middle for a two-run single that made it 2-1.
The late rally made a winner of Zach Putnam (5-3), who pitched a scoreless inning. Jake Petricka worked the ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances.
“It does a lot for us,” Eaton said. “It really does. We want to show we’re not dead. The White Sox are here to stay. We want to be better next year, and we’re going to continue to push to be better. It starts with this month.”
Samardzija looked sharp in his first start in Chicago since the Cubs traded him to Oakland on July 5. He gave up six hits, struck out six and walked two.
“They made me battle out there, a leadoff walk, a couple of leadoff hits,” Samardzija said. “So I was really grinding out there.”
White Sox rookie Chris Bassitt was almost as good.
In his second major league start, the right-hander gave up one run and five hits. He left to loud cheers after Derek Norris led off the seventh with a broken-bat single.
Dunn, recently acquired from the White Sox, gave Oakland a 1-0 lead with two out in the fourth when he drove in Coco Crisp with a single past a diving Gillaspie at third. It looked as though that would be enough before the game turned in the eighth.
Athletics: C John Jaso remains out indefinitely with a concussion after visiting a specialist on Wednesday. Oakland manager Bob Melvin was hoping he would be cleared to return after seeing Dr. Micky Collins in Pittsburgh. Instead, Melvin said Jaso will return to Oakland and stay away from baseball activities for at least a few days. ... Closer Sean Doolittle appears close to returning from a strained muscle in the rib area. He threw a side session Wednesday, and Melvin said he could be activated on Friday. ... OF Craig Gentry was improving but still was feeling symptoms after leaving Tuesday’s game with a concussion, Melvin said.
White Sox: Retiring slugger Paul Konerko hopes to return from a broken bone in his left hand next week. He said he might take some swings on Friday and hit some balls over the weekend. He thinks he will be ready to play during a nine-game trip to Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Detroit that starts next week.
Chris Sale (11-3, 2.09 ERA) starts for Chicago, while Scott Kazmir (14-7, 3.42) pitches for Oakland as the White Sox and Athletics wrap up their four-game series. Kazmir got back on track in his last start even though he didn’t figure in the decision, allowing three runs in 6 1-3 innings after giving up 13 runs in his previous two outings.
Donaldson made a terrific grab at third when he leaped to his left to snag Gillaspie’s liner in the fourth inning, and White Sox left fielder Jordan Danks made a neat catch in the seventh when he raced in and dove to rob Jed Lowrie.