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Doolittle doesn’t let his guard down, saves the day

Sean Doolittle is back on a roll for A's.

Sean Doolittle is back on a roll for A’s.

It would have been easy for Sean Doolittle to figure he wasn’t going to get into Monday’s game.

Through eight innings, A’s starter Jesse Chavez had a 5-1 lead over the Chicago White Sox and he was going to get a chance for his first career complete game.

And if he wasn’t going to get the complete game, Chavez’s replacements were lined up to be Fernando Abad and Jim Johnson.

Doolittle said he never thought about not going through his whole preparation cycle starting in the sixth inning.

“I learned last year you never let your guard down,’’ Doolittle said. “I did all my stretching and everything I needed to be on track.

“There is no worse feeling in the world when you mentally check out of a game, and then the phone rings in the bullpen and it’s for you.’’

The phone did ring. Chavez gave up a homer. Abad gave up a walk. Johnson gave up two hits. Suddenly the White Sox had two runs in and the tying runs on base.

Enter Doolittle. He gave up a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Paul Konerko as Chicago scored a fourth run, then he struck out the next two for his second save.

“You don’t ever want to not be prepared,’’ Doolittle said.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said Doolittle “did great.’’

Doolittle is on something of a nice streak. Ever since giving up four runs on four hits to the only four men he faced back on April 26 in Houston, the left-hander has thrown 8.1 innings in seven games and hasn’t allowed a run.

And with Johnson having a tough night in the ninth, it seems the A’s bullpen by committee might be back to stay for a while.

John Hickey

Returning to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.