CHICAGO -- Taking the whole body of work into account, the A's eight-game road trip was a smashing success.

So what to make of a 4-1 defeat to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday afternoon, in which they provided more material for the blooper reel than they had all season?

Perhaps they were due for a clunker. However you rationalize what took place at U.S. Cellular Field, the A's weren't going to let a bad ending put a damper on what they accomplished in their first extended road trip of the season.

They went 6-2 on the three-city jaunt and feel pretty good about their standing as they begin a two-game home series tonight against the Seattle Mariners.

It's too early to say the A's are serious contenders in the American League West. But at 9-6, they've positioned themselves nicely as they open their first series against a division opponent.

"We played great," shortstop Bobby Crosby said. "We played three really good teams. To come out 6-2 is pretty quality. If we can do that on every road trip, we'll be pretty good."

After scoring 34 runs during their five-game winning streak to start the trip, the A's managed just four runs over the last three games. On Tuesday, they were shackled by Chicago left-hander John Danks, who threw 7ª shutout innings and scattered five hits.

But the A's didn't do themselves any favors, either. Mark Ellis was picked off in the first inning when Danks threw to first base while Ellis broke for second.


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An inning later, Emil Brown was thrown out by 10 feet trying to stretch a single into a double. Chicago center fielder Alexei Ramirez made an outstanding throw on the play as he fielded the ball, spun and threw with his body taking him away from the infield.

A's left-hander Dana Eveland, who allowed just one earned run over his first two starts, struggled with his control all afternoon and lasted just 4ª innings.

Carlos Quentin's three-run home run in the fourth inning provided the White Sox all the offense they needed.

Then the A's made two errors in the fifth, when Chicago made it 4-0.

After catching Paul Konerko's liner, third baseman Donnie Murphy fired an errant throw to first while trying to double off Jermaine Dye. Dye advanced to second and would score on Joe Crede's single.

Later in the inning, Crosby dropped a pop-up in the middle of the diamond that he and Ellis converged on, but neither seemed certain of going after.

"That's what we've got to do this year -- pitch and play defense," Crosby said. "We'll swing the bat when we swing the bat, but we've got to make plays."

The A's, though, feel they have generated momentum as Seattle arrives in town. Their first AL West contest finally arrives in their 16th game on the schedule.

This is the deepest the A's have gone into a season without playing an AL West game since 2000, when they faced Texas on May 5 in their 29th game.

"It's really strange," Ellis said. "But we play (AL West teams) so many times, we know all those guys. But they may not know us since we've got so many new guys."

Tonight offers an intriguing pitching matchup with Joe Blanton squaring off against Seattle's Felix Hernandez. Last year, Hernandez won all three of his decisions against the A's, who scored just one earned run in 23 innings against the right-hander.

"There are certain guys in the league that if they're on their game, you're going to have a tough time," Ellis said. "We've got to see how he's throwing the ball. If he's throwing strikes, he's tough. If he's erratic, you can get to him."

Contact Joe Stiglich at jstiglic@bayareanewsgroup.com.