On Tuesday, the Cubs had their most embarrassing performance of the season, as they posted four errors to the scoreboard, and handed away the game to Oakland. Wednesday brought a much different result, as the Cubs received a quality start from Ryan Dempster (W, 5-5, 3.67), and were able to find their offense.
Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez (L, 6-5, 4.21) lasted just five innings, while surrendering six earned runs, earning his fifth loss of the season.
“They did their job,” Gonzalez said. “They’re a good hitting team, and you respect each one of those guys. Good lineup, and it was fun facing them.”
The A’s jumped on the board in the top of the first, as the newest member of the Athletics, Conor Jackson scored on a sac-fly from Ryan Sweeney.
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster got in a jam, as the A’s had runner on first and second with one out. But Kurt Suzuki grounded into a double play, which helped Dempster escape a potential jam. After that point, Dempster was able to settle in. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, while allowing just two runs, and tossing 120 pitches.
“He got in some jams in pretty much every inning,” Jackson said of Dempster. “He’s a good pitcher. It’s what he does. He’s not super overpowering, he kind of works the corners. He doesn’t really give you much to hit. You got to tip your hat to him.”
The Cubs tied it in the second inning when Derrek Lee hit a solo home run to left field. Lee played one of the worst games of his career on Tuesday, as the veteran first baseman committed two errors in a row, which was a key in Oakland’s win.
On Wednesday, Lee responded with a pair of hits, including the home run. He was able to shake off the rough performance, and help lead his team to victory.
“He’s the pro’s pro,” Dempster said. “He never gets to high and he never gets too low. He knows it’s a long season, and he never lets anything negative effect him.”
The pitch to Lee came on a hanging curveball from Gonzalez. It was the first of many mistakes the A’s left-hander would make during the loss. However, Gonzalez simply tipped his cap to Lee after the home run.
“I think I did a pretty good pitch on him, down and in,” Gonzalez said. “He just got the bat head out and hit it down the line and took it out. I think I executed a good pitch on him, but he’s a good hitter.”
The Cubs would tack on another run in the second inning. Rookie shortstop Starlin Castro would drive in a run on an RBI single.
In the fourth inning, Castro would knock in another run, as a sac-fly to right field would score Lee.
Things really fell apart for Gonzalez in the bottom of the fifth inning. Xavier Nady hit an RBI single, which made the score, 4-1. Then Alfonso Soriano ripped a two run double to right field, extending the lead to 6-1.
Gonzalez would be yanked after the inning. After the game, the A’s starter felt like he was inches away from pitching a better game.
“I was pounding the strike zone. [I had some] tough breaks,” Gonzalez said. “They got some hits that could have gone either way.”
The A’s would tack on a run in the seventh inning, but it was too little, too late. Cubs relievers Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol were able to finish out the game, allowing only one base-runner.
The brightside of the loss for Oakland was the play of their new left-fielder. Conor Jackson made his A’s debut at the same place that he made his major league debut, Wrigley Field. Jackson had two hits, and scored a run during his first full game with Oakland. The California native was pleased with his performance, but disappointed in the result.
“From a personal standpoint, I thought it went well,” Jackson said after the loss. “We didn’t put out the W, that’s concerning, but overall, I felt pretty comfortable here.”
Jackson was put in the leadoff spot for the A’s lineup during his debut as a starter. It wasn't unfamiliar territory for Jackson, as he has hit at the top spot during his time in Arizona. Still, the newest member of the A’s admitted his batting approach in the top spot of the order is the same as any other spot.
“I’ve only done it a few times over in Arizona this year,” Jackson said. “I don’t really feel like I should change my approach very much. I think the approach that I have probably fits good for that hole. Whether it’s one, two, eight or nine, I’m going to take the same approach up there and not really change much.”
The two teams return to the field on Thursday afternoon for the rubber match of the three-game series. The A’s will start lefty Dallas Braden (4-6, 3.95). He will oppose struggling Cubs right-hander Randy Wells, (3-5, 5.15). First pitch is set for 11:20 Central time.