OAKLAND – Terrence Long kept to his usual routine, and for one day it worked.
Long homered twice and drove in four runs to break out of a lengthy slump as the Oakland Athletics completed a three-game sweep Sunday with a 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
“I live and die by what works for me,” Long said. “I’m not changing anything. I know what works for me.”
Barry Zito (17-5) matched his career high for victories, allowing three runs on four hits in 5 2-3 innings. The A’s, who have won five straight and 11 of 14, remained two games behind first-place Seattle in the AL West.
Oakland’s Scott Hatteberg tied a career high with four hits. Long was 3-for-4 after getting just four hits in his previous 47 at-bats.
“I’ve been struggling basically the whole season,” said Long, one of two A’s (along with Miguel Tejada) to play in every game this season. “I keep doing the same thing, but it just wasn’t happening for me.”
Oakland manager Art Howe was glad to see Long break out of his slump.
“I know he wants to be part of the offense,” Howe said. “He hasn’t been, and that’s frustrating. Now he can breathe a lot easier. He needed that and we needed that.”
Zito won despite his third-shortest outing of the season.
“That’s the frustrating thing,” Zito said. “I shouldn’t have to come out that early, but I understand why.”
Oakland’s David Justice robbed Tony Graffanino of a home run in the first inning, reaching over the left-field wall to haul in the long drive.
“That was a great catch,” Zito said. “It was discouraging to me to give up that pitch on the first hitter of the game.”
Royce Clayton homered for the White Sox, who dropped their fourth straight.
Dan Wright (8-11) gave up seven runs — five earned — on 10 hits to lose for the third time in four starts.
“I kept making more mistakes as the game wore on and they took advantage,” Wright said.