OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics reached the AL Championship Series last October. Now, they are just trying to finish this disappointing season with some respectability.
Jack Cust hit solo home runs in his first two at-bats to help Lenny DiNardo win his fourth consecutive decision, and the A's beat the Chicago White Sox 4-3 on Tuesday night.
"It was a Custian performance," joked DiNardo, "No more a Ruthian performance."
Cust homered in the first and again leading off the fourth for his 19th and 20th home runs of the season and his second career multihomer game. He also connected twice May 10 at Kansas City. He added a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Donnie Murphy hit Oakland's third homer of the night off Jon Garland and Nick Swisher tripled and scored a run for the A's, who snapped Chicago's four-game road winning streak and sent the White Sox to their third consecutive defeat and fourth in five games.
At 58-62, the defending AL West champion A's are trying to get back to .500.
"We're just trying to win ballgames right now," Cust said. "That'd be great to get back to that point and work from there. We've had a rough season in terms of injuries. It would be a great accomplishment if we finish up the season at or above .500."
Josh Fields hit his 13th homer of the year leading off the sixth for the White Sox, who were without closer Bobby Jenks. Jenks tweaked his right ankle while at home during Monday's off day and wasn't available to pitch.
On Sunday, Jenks broke David Wells' American League record and tied the major league record of 41 consecutive batters retired. Jim Barr also set down 41 in a row for San Francisco in 1972.
"I was walking my dog and missed a step," Jenks said. "It's nothing serious. I'll be back tomorrow."
This was a matchup between two clubs that had high hopes of success when the season began but both have struggled and underachieved.
The A's have won nine of their last 14 games and five of seven at home.
"The last couple of weeks we've been playing really well," manager Bob Geren said.
After this one, White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen considered arguing the final bang-bang play at first that ended the game but instead kept quiet. He knows he could catch Braves manager Bobby Cox for career ejections one day. Cox picked up his major league record 132nd Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants.
"Any time I say something to the umpire, Major League Baseball makes money," Guillen said. "I want to know what they do with my money. They should pay my taxes. ... I'm going to call (Cox) tomorrow, send him a box of cigars and tell him, 'I'm right behind you.'"
DiNardo (7-6) is 4-0 over his last six starts. He allowed two runs and six hits in five-plus innings, struck out one and walked three. Alan Embree, who allowed a pinch-hit RBI single to Darin Erstad, recorded three outs for his 15th save in 18 chances.
Garland (8-8), an 18-game winner last season, saw his winless stretch reach three outings in a row since a victory July 27 over Toronto as Chicago opened a six-game road swing out West.
"It's been frustrating," Garland said. "The first half I felt I was an All-Star pitcher in my mind. In the second half, I just haven't pitched up to par."
The right-hander pitched seven scoreless innings in a no-decision at Oakland on April 10, but surrendered all three Oakland home runs this time. He allowed four earned runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out three and walked three.
Jack Hannahan went hitless in his A's debut after being acquired in a minor league trade with the Detroit Tigers and called up from Triple-A Sacramento. Hannahan will get opportunities at third base while six-time Gold Glover Eric Chavez is on the disabled list with back spasms.
Hannahan made his major league debut last season for the Tigers.
Swisher tested his sore left hamstring by running on it before the game and was able to play. He sat out Monday's game at Detroit a day after leaving the game with the injury. ... The White Sox are trying to win the season series against the A's for the first time since going 6-3 in 2000. Chicago leads 4-3. ... Nine of Garland's 16 homers allowed have come in Chicago.