"I've been able to use it a lot, really. I don't try to pick a guy off. If he gets picked off, fantastic," Smith said Monday night after earning his first major league win by pitching the Oakland Athletics to a 2-1 victory.
"When I was with the Diamondbacks, they were really big on shutting down the running game," said the left-hander, who came to Oakland in the deal that sent Dan Haren to Arizona. "That's what I've incorporated, and every so often I'll pick a guy off."
Making his second big league appearance, Smith (1-0) gave up one run and six hits over seven innings on another cold night at U.S. Cellular Field, where the gametime temperature was 42 degrees. And he outpitched Mark Buehrle to get the victory.
Smith was able to thwart former Athletic Nick Swisher's third-inning steal attempt by making a quick throw to first and catching him leaving early. And in the seventh, he caught Jermaine Dye leaning at first after Dye started the inning with a single.
"It wouldn't appear that was his second time out in a major league uniform on the mound like that," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "He does a nice job controlling the running game. We saw that a lot in Arizona. That's part of his total game. He's difficult to run on and he throws strikes. That's a good combination."
Kurt Suzuki went 4-for-4 for the A's, who are 6-1 on their first road trip of the season. They improved to 9-5 overall for their best start through 14 games since opening 10-4 in 1992.
They closed out their latest victory when Huston Street got through a shaky ninth to pick up his fourth save in five chances.
He allowed a one-out single to Dye and threw a wild pitch that allowed pinch-runner Brian Anderson to move to second. Street hit A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch before striking out Carlos Quentin and getting Joe Crede on a comebacker to end it.
Swisher, traded to the White Sox from the A's in January, had two singles and a walk against Smith while playing against his former team for the first time.
After Swisher's one-out single in the sixth, Orlando Cabrera followed with a single to left and Swisher dashed to third, barely beating Emil Brown's throw with a headfirst slide. Jim Thome's RBI grounder cut Oakland's lead to 2-1.
"It was fun seeing some of the guys," Swisher said. "It was a little different to go out and play against them."
Chicago entered the game with the highest-scoring offense in the AL and had put up 11 runs against Detroit on Sunday; Paul Konerko and Crede hit grand slams.
"They've been swinging good. I saw the two grand slams yesterday," Smith said.
Buehrle (1-1), who hadn't pitched in eight days because of a rainout and a decision to give him an extra day of rest, gave up nine hits in seven innings while his career mark against Oakland dropped to 3-10.
The A's bunched singles by Mike Sweeney, Brown and Suzuki in the fourth for their first run, ending a stretch of 22 consecutive scoreless innings by the White Sox that included back-to-back shutouts of Detroit on Saturday and Sunday.
Sweeney doubled in the sixth and Brown followed with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
"Smith went out and pitched a great game. Somebody we'd never seen before," Swisher said. "He had great command of his changeup. We had a couple of good chances to tie the game or maybe move ahead. It just didn't happen. We've been playing good baseball. ... Our sticks didn't come around."
- Smith also had a solid outing in his major league debut last Wednesday in Toronto. He got a no-decision after giving up two hits and three runs -- two earned -- in six innings.
- Swisher said the trade has worked out. "I have a great deal of respect for (GM) Billy (Beane) and (owner) Lew Wolff, but they thought that moving me over here was best for the organization and it seems to be working out for them as well as us," Swisher said. Swisher played 458 games for the A's from 2004-07 and hit 80 home runs while batting .251. Now he is Chicago's leadoff hitter and a character in the clubhouse. He made a bid to tie the game in the eighth Monday night, sending a drive to the base of the fence in center field.
- Suzuki's four hits were a career high.