Game Eighty-One – Cubs 7, Athletics 8
WP – Dan Otero (1-0) LP – James Russell (1-2, BS 6) Save – Grant Balfour (20)
One of the busiest days in the history of the organization ended on a bad note as the Cubs blew a two-run lead with two outs in the eighth inning and dropped the opener in Oakland.
The Cubs had two different leads on the night and took a 7-5 lead into the eighth. After Blake Parker gave up a leadoff single to Josh Donaldson, Parker retired the next two batters and turned the game over to James Russell. Russell continued to struggle and walked Josh Reddick. Russell then served up a three-run homer to Derek Norris that ended up being the game winner.
The Cubs played a good game for seven innings once again. The offense outhit the A’s 13-10 and gave the pitching staff two different leads on the night. The Cubs put together one of their best innings of the season in the fourth when they sent ten to the plate and scored five runs on six hits against A.J. Griffin.
Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) tied the game at three in the fourth with his tenth home run of the year. Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a sac fly RBI) hit a sac fly that plated Anthony Rizzo with the go ahead run and Welington Castillo (2-for-4 with a double and three RBI) singled in Brian Bogusevic (2-for-4 with two runs scored).
The Cubs scored two more runs in the sixth on Welington Castillo’s second hit of the game, a two-run double to center, and broke a 5-5 tie. The Cubs could not tack on any runs and the bullpen could not hold the lead.
The Cubs’ bullpen struggles continued on Tuesday night after Chris Rusin and Carlos Villanueva put the team in position to win the game. Rusin made his 2013 Cubs’ debut and struggled over the first two innings before retiring four of the last five batters he faced. Rusin was pitching on short-rest due to the team trading Scott Feldman on Tuesday. Rusin was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday for the I-Cubs. Oakland lit up Rusin the first time through the lineup. Rusin gave up three runs on two long home runs and surrendered five hits to the first nine batters he faced. Rusin ended up allowing three runs on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings.
Carlos Villanueva piggybacked Rusin and gave up two unearned runs on two hits, one walk and one strikeout in 2 2/3 innings. Villanueva left the game in the seventh in line for the win.
Blake Parker pitched a perfect seventh before surrendering the leadoff single to Donaldson in the eighth and turning the game over to James Russell.
James Russell was charged with his sixth blown save of the season after he allowed the three-run homer to Derek Norris. The Cubs have now blown 17 saves this season and Tuesday was the 25th time this season the Cubs lost a game in which they had a lead in. Cubs pitching served up three home runs on Tuesday night that accounted for six of the Athletics’ eight runs.
Alfonso Soriano hit his tenth homer of the season in the fourth inning, a three-run shot that tied the game at three. The home run moved Soriano into a tie for 12th All-Time on the Cubs’ home run list with Andre Dawson (174). Soriano passed Albert Belle and is now tied with Frank Howard and Jim Rice for 61st on the All-Time Home Run list with 382.
With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs finished the first half of the season with a 35-46 record.
After the Cubs went down in order to start the game, Yoenis Cespedes singled to right (2-0 pitch) through the shift with two outs. Josh Donaldson put the A’s on the board with a homer to left. The ball left the park in a hurry and the Cubs were down 2-0. Chris Rusin retired Nate Freiman on a flyout to right (3-1 pitch) to end the inning.
The Cubs could not cash in a two-out double by Dioner Navarro in the second and an old Cubs’ killer led off the A’s second with a long homer to left. Chris Young teed off on Rusin and put Oakland up 3-0. Josh Reddick launched a 0-1 pitch to deep center. Brian Bogusevic raced back to the wall and reached up just in time to haul it in for the first out. It is unclear if the ball would have left the park, but it was close. Derek Norris followed with a single to left off Valbuena’s glove (3-1 pitch). Adam Rosales singled to left and the A’s had runners on first and second with one out.
Chris Rusin surrendered five hits, two home runs, to the first nine batters he faced.
With runners on first and second and one down, Coco Crisp hit a routine grounder toward second. Barney fielded and flipped to Castro but Crisp beat the throw to first and put runners on first and third with two outs. Crisp stole second on a 2-0 pitch to Lowrie. Chris Rusin battled back and struck out Lowrie swinging to end the inning. Rusin needed 38 pitches, 21 for strikes, to complete two innings on Tuesday night.
The Cubs went down in order in the third. A.J. Griffin retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced.
Chris Rusin put together a good third inning. Rusin surrendered a two-out single to Freiman, but that was all. Rusin threw 57 pitches, 33 for strikes, in three innings.
A.J. Griffin retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before he took the hill in the fourth.
Starlin Castro reached on broken bat infield single up the middle. Nate Schierholtz broke his bat and blooped a 1-1 pitch into shallow right out of the reach of Lowrie. Soriano stepped in with two on and no outs.
Griffin uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Soriano. Castro and Schierholtz moved up ninety feet. Alfonso Soriano launched a 2-1 over the wall in left center. Soriano’s tenth homer of the season, and third on the current road trip, tied the game at three.
Anthony Rizzo followed Soriano and walked. Navarro was caught looking for the first out. Brian Bogusevic worked a full count. With Rizzo running, Bogusevic pulled Griffin’s next pitch into right. Rizzo stopped at third with one out. Darwin Barney drove a 2-2 pitch out to left. Yoenis Cespedes caught the ball, Rizzo tagged and scored … 4-3 Cubs. Griffin uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Castillo. Bogusevic advanced to second and scored when Welington Castillo singled to center … 5-3 Cubs. Luis Valbuena singled to left and put runners on first and second with two down. Castro hit for the second time in the inning and popped out to right for the third out.
The Cubs sent 10 to the plate in the fourth and scored five runs on six hits … but the 5-3 lead did not last long.
Chris Rusin started the fourth and retired Reddick on a grounder to first. As planned, Sveum then went to his pen for Carlos Villanueva.
Villanueva walked Derek Norris. Eric Sogard hit for Adam Rosales and blooped a 3-2 pitch into shallow left. Soriano ran in as Castro raced out. Soriano and Castro collided, the ball fell and the A’s had runners on second and third with one out. Castro was hung with the error. Coco Crisp pulled a 1-0 pitch into right. Norris and Sogard scored and tied the game at five. Jed Lowrie fouled out to Castro down the left field line for the second out. Cespedes stepped in with Villanueva seemingly on the ropes. Villanueva picked off Crisp from first base to end the inning.
The game remained tied at five through the fifth.
Dioner Navarro led off the sixth with a bloop single to left (3-2 pitch). Brian Bogusevic then lined a single into center and the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs. A.J. Griffin retired Barney on a pop out to second. Welington Castillo drove a 1-2 pitch over Crisp’s head in right center. Navarro scored and Bogusevic ran through David Bell’s stop sign. Bogusevic scored but Castillo was caught in a run down between second and third and Donaldson tagged him out. Bob Melvin went to his pen and replaced Griffin with Jerry Blevins.
Luis Valbuena ripped a single into left before Blevins caught Castro looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.
Carlos Villanueva set down the side in order in the sixth. After six complete, the Cubs led 7-5.
The Cubs did nothing against Blevins in the seventh and Blake Parker retired the A’s in order in the home half.
The Cubs were not able to tack on in the eighth after the Cubs put two on with one out before Castillo grounded into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.
Blake Parker stayed in and started the eighth. Parker fell behind Donaldson 3-1. Donaldson ripped a single into center. Parker retired Freiman on a fly out to right and Young on a pop out. Sveum went to his pen for James Russell with the lefty Reddick due up. Russell walked Josh Reddick to put two on with two down.
Derek Norris worked a 2-2 count before launching a three-run homer over the wall in left center … and just like that the A’s took an 8-7 lead. Sogard popped out to Castillo to end the inning.
Grant Balfour took the hill in the ninth and issued a leadoff walk to Luis Valbuena. Starlin Castro worked a full count but swung over the top of a fastball for strike three. Valbuena was running with the pitch and Norris threw him out … strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out. Schierholtz also worked a full count before grounding out to second to end the game.
Matt Garza is scheduled to face Bartolo Colon on Wednesday night.