CHICAGO -- Mired in a five-game losing streak, the A's cruised to victory against the White Sox on Friday evening, blanking them behind a stellar Kendall Graveman.Their 9-0 series-opening victory showcased no shortage of offensive highlights, but Graveman's complete-game effort on 98 pitches topped them all, especially considering what had
CHICAGO -- Mired in a five-game losing streak, the A's cruised to victory against the White Sox on Friday evening, blanking them behind a stellar Kendall Graveman.
Their 9-0 series-opening victory showcased no shortage of offensive highlights, but Graveman's complete-game effort on 98 pitches topped them all, especially considering what had transpired earlier in the week.
Just three days prior to throwing a "Maddux" -- a complete-game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches -- Graveman spoke to the Hall of Fame pitcher who inspired the term.
Graveman was put in touch with Greg Maddux through team personnel and, after playing phone tag for some time, finally touched base with him prior to Tuesday's game in Texas.
"I was like a kid in a candy shop," said Graveman, who watched Maddux's Braves with fervor growing up in Alabama. "I was just asking him questions, and he was very generous talking to me for 15 or 20 minutes. We just talked about the mental side of the game. … I think that goes a long way. I don't want to look back at the end of my career and say I didn't do as much as I could to try to get the best out of myself."
Graveman has quietly been Oakland's most reliable pitcher in a season marred by numerous injuries to members of the pitching staff, including Sonny Gray, and "he's really kind of took ownership of the fact that he was kind of the last guy and really has to anchor the rotation," manager Bob Melvin said of Graveman, who has a 3.47 ERA in his last 15 starts.
"Doubly impressive in the fact that he wants to be that guy that takes the mound and, even when we're struggling, gives the team a feeling that we're going to win that night," Melvin said.
"We're seeing a guy grow," first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "We're seeing a competitor, a guy pounding the strike zone, getting a ton of ground balls. It's a lot of fun. He pitches quick, uses the zone. You know there's a good chance you're going to have some action when he's out there. This is the best I've seen him. I couldn't be more excited for him."
Graveman put just three men on base Friday, and only two via hit -- both of whom were promptly doubled off at first base. The other boarded on a rare Alonso error, and not once did the White Sox put a man on second base.
The right-handed sinkerballer, who also threw a complete game July 23 against the Rays, didn't walk a batter and fanned five, at one point retiring 14 in a row.
He is the first Oakland pitcher to throw a Maddux since Rich Harden on July 14, 2005.
"It's pretty special," Graveman said. "Try to just take it one pitch at a time is one of the biggest things he told me, no matter the situation."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.