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Score one for the misfits

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Jack Cust, Lenny DiNardo, Donnie Murphy.

Not Mike Piazza, Rich Harden, Bobby Crosby.

Marginal, one- or two-dimensional guys who aren't your traditional "complete" ballplayers. Guys who can make definitive contributions on the field -- for cheap -- and who, when mixed together on a roster, can generate an entire team effort.

I'm not talking about intangibles like clutchness or positive clubhouse mojo or luck.

I'm talking about Cust clouting two impressive (and qualitatively different) home runs, just when he'd been at the edge of a long power drought.

I'm talking about Donnie Murphy putting an efficient, powerful stroke on a ball -- and providing some solid defense at SS.

I'm talking about Lenny DiNardo pitching effectively to contact and providing a more quality start than most of Zito's starts the last 2 years (to venture into the realm of the intangible, I feel more comfortable with DiNardo starting every fifth game than I did the last couple seasons with Zito).

Now, the White Sox are certainly in a shame spiral of their own this year. But the A's simply outplayed the Sox tonight in every facet of the game (Hannahan and DiNardo's shaky rundown execution excepted).

And they did it with castoffs and second-rate, "incomplete" players providing the bulk of the performance value.

Tonight was a good win, a satisfying win. A small thing in a long and dispiriting season -- but such are the steps back to contention, be it this season or next.