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Colon stifles White Sox with five-hitter

OAKLAND -- On a quiet Friday evening at the O.co Coliseum, A's manager Bob Melvin silenced anyone who ever questioned him each time he decided to prematurely remove Bartolo Colon from a game.

Before the night began, Colon had thrown no more than 97 pitches in an outing this season. More times than not, in fact, he didn't even get to the 90-pitch mark, throwing only 80-some pitches, sometimes 70-some pitches, in six of his first 10 starts.

This time, he was allowed to go to 106. Still, the bullpen didn't budge. It didn't have to, because the game was already over.

In a tidy two-hour and 14-minute contest against his former White Sox club, Colon made his way through nine innings, with only five hits allowed, with ease, guiding the A's to a 3-0 victory.

"We take him out early, typically, because we try to keep him rested," said Melvin. "I felt like this was the one time I let him go. 110 [pitches] was kind of what I was looking at. I didn't want him going much over that. There are going to be occasions where you feel like he's ready for it, and hopefully the rest we've given him allows him to have a game like this every now and then."

It was the 11th career shutout for Colon and not only his first since May 30, 2011, but the first by an American League pitcher at age 40 since Curt Schilling on June 7, 2007.

This veteran pitches like one, having tossed at least seven innings or more in each of his last three starts, with just four walks tallied -- none of which came Friday -- on the season, spanning 70 1/3 innings.

"He's doing everything he always does," said Josh Reddick, who gave Colon the support he needed in the eighth.

But for the first seven innings, it was Colon and Dylan Axelrod doing all the work.

The opposing hurlers engaged in a classic pitchers' duel, getting through those frames in less than two hours without producing much action. The A's had just two hits to their name, the White Sox four -- two of which didn't even leave the infield -- in that span. Not one walk was issued. And no one reached second base.

Then John Jaso led off the eighth with a double. And Reddick, fresh off the disabled list, followed with a double to bring in the first run. Coco Crisp added a two-run single against right-handed reliever Jesse Crain.

"I think we were all having frustrating at-bats up to that point," Jaso said. "It seemed like we were kind of getting ourselves out, but he was doing a great job. He noticed us chasing certain pitches, so he kept going back to those pitches. It was good to finally get him there in the end. I know if he could take that two-strike pitch back he would, because he left it over the plate a little bit. Glad I capitalized on it."

Reddick, returning from the DL with a .152 average, was even more relieved to contribute.

"For a guy that was throwing mostly offspeed, that's pretty much what I was waiting for," he said."Waiting for him to hang something. I had a feeling that if he didn't leave something up that he was going to put me on and deal with the guy behind me for a double play. Fortunately for us, he put something up.

"It felt great. These guys have been playing great without me, so for me to be able to contribute feels really good."

The A's finished May with a 16-12 ledger, despite starting the month 4-10, and after going 16-12 in April. They've won seven of eight and 12 of 14 and, in eight of those, have plated at least four runs. Colon would've been well served by just one on this night.

"He was going out for the ninth regardless," Melvin said. "If it was tied, he certainly deserved it. Once we get ahead it's a little tougher decision when it's by one. Once we get to three, it's his game at that point. If a guy gets on, I probably get [Grant] Balfour up, but that's his game.

"After the eighth, I asked him how he was doing. We usually take him out, try to keep him ready for potential outings like this if they come up, so we try to keep him right around 100. He said, 'Good.' I said, 'How good?' He said, 'Real good.' That was all I needed to hear."

Said Colon: "I feel proud to pitch the way that I did tonight. It's the team that I played for back in the day, and I feel so happy the way I pitched the way I did."

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