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Oakland at Chicago

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Oakland (33-35)000010100280
Chi. Cubs (30-36) «100000011392

Heroics of recently benched Fukudome spark Cubs past Athletics

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Despite being benched by Cubs manager Lou Piniella, Kosuke Fukudome hasn't sulked, pouted, thrown a fit or demanded a trade.

"Would I change my situation by getting angry? I don't think so," Fukudome said. "I'm just going to keep working for my opportunities. And when I get an opportunity, I just need to do my job."

He did just that Thursday, getting a single as a pinch-hitter to start the tying rally in the eighth inning and then driving home the winning run in the ninth as Chicago defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-2.

Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics

Rosecrans: Manager struggles with NL strategy

The former Japan League star was an immediate smash with the Cubs in 2008 after signing a four-year, $48 million contract. But a blazing April led to a mediocre May and then it got worse each month after -- all the way down to .178 in September.

The pattern repeated last season. And it was happening again this year; he batted .344 in April and .253 in May, and he took a .214 June average into Thursday's game.

Piniella had seen enough. The manager started Fukudome in right field only four times in the last 12 games -- and in none of the last five, going with a platoon of Xavier Nady and rookie Tyler Colvin.

"It has no relationship to my past," Fukudome, speaking through an interpreter, said when asked if he was frustrated to lose his job after his stellar history in Japan. "If the manager decides to do it this way, all I can do is work hard. Because getting angry wouldn't make any difference."

With one out in the eighth and the Cubs trailing 2-1, Fukudome singled off Michael Wuertz. Marlon Byrd singled and Derrek Lee walked before Nady tied it with a sacrifice fly off closer Andrew Bailey.

After Cubs closer Carlos Marmol (2-1) escaped a first-and-third, one-out situation in the top of the ninth, Jerry Blevins (2-1) opened the bottom of the inning by walking Geovany Soto.

Starlin Castro sacrificed, pinch-hitter Koyie Hill was intentionally walked and Ryan Theriot walked to load the bases. On the next pitch, Fukudome singled through a drawn-in infield to give the Cubs their first series victory since late May and their first winning streak of any length since they took three in a row from May 22-25.

"I didn't do the job, simple as that," said Blevins after the A's lost their fifth in six games to fall two games under .500, matching their low-water mark this season.

"It's heartbreaking when your team fights to come back ... and then you basically lose a game yourself. It's embarrassing."

The A's had been 28-0 when leading after seven innings, but their inability to hold the lead this time deprived Dallas Braden of his first victory since his May 9 perfect game.

Braden, who allowed one run on five hits in six innings, is 0-4 in his last seven starts. The A's have scored two runs or fewer in six of those outings.

The left-hander was able to throw only 83 pitches due to stiffness in his elbow, which has bothered him for two weeks. He vowed to make his next start in five days and said he was pleased with his outing "considering what I've been battling."

"Physically, I was at the end of the rope," said Braden, who retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced. "Asking more out of myself ... would have been hazardous for the team. You always want to have the right guy out there in the right situation. It wasn't going to be me."

Cubs starter Randy Wells also pitched well, giving up two runs on seven hits in seven innings. Although he is 0-5 with a 5.89 ERA in his last nine starts and hasn't won since April, he was encouraged by the physical and mental adjustments he has made.

"It's a little unfortunate it took this long to get the problem fixed," said Wells, who had a 3.05 ERA as one of the majors' top rookie pitchers last season. "Today I was pretty pleased with the way I calmed my emotions, didn't let the negative things bother me and just focused on executing."

Jeff Baker homered in the first for the Cubs. Oakland tied it on Rajai Davis' fifth-inning single and went ahead in the seventh on Mark Ellis' home run.

Notes

  • Going into Thursday, the A's were 11-5 in one-run games, an MLB-high .688 winning percentage. The Cubs now are 10-15 in such games; their 15 losses lead the majors.
  • Before drawing his key ninth-inning walk, Theriot was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts on the day a bobblehead in his likeness was given to fans. With Theriot slumping, Piniella said Mike Fontenot would get more playing time at second base.
  • Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez, on the DL with a sore left thumb, will start a rehab assignment Saturday at Class A Peoria.
  • Back in his playing days, A's manager Bob Geren went 3 for 5 at Wrigley Field, including a homer off Dan Plesac on May 9, 1993. He joked that the tiny visiting clubhouse "builds team camaraderie."
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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As a pinch-hitter, Kosuke Fukudome starts the rally in the eighth before driving in the winning run in the ninth. (AP)
As a pinch-hitter, Kosuke Fukudome starts the rally in the eighth before driving in the winning run in the ninth. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

K. Fukudome
AB 2
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
Oakland

M. Ellis
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Oakland Athletics
Rajai Davis, CF4021102 .271
Conor Jackson, LF4010003 .245
Daric Barton, 1B4000022 .283
Kurt Suzuki, C4000001 .266
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B4010010 .290
Jack Cust, RF3000021 .289
    Brad Ziegler, P0000000 .000
    Craig Breslow, P0000000 .000
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
    Andrew Bailey, P0000000 .000
   a- Ryan Sweeney, PH-RF1010000 .305
Mark Ellis, 2B4121001 .287
Cliff Pennington, SS3110101 .220
Dallas Braden, P1000000 .000
   b- Gabe Gross, PH-RF2000012 .267
    Jerry Blevins, P0000000 .000
Totals3428226  
a-singled for Bailey in the 9th
b-struck out for Braden in the 7th
Batting
2B - Rajai Davis (11, R. Wells), Conor Jackson (12, R. Wells)
HR - Mark Ellis (2, R. Wells)
SH - Dallas Braden (1)
RBI - Rajai Davis (19), Mark Ellis (15)
2-OUT RBI - Rajai Davis (7)
SB - Rajai Davis (25, 3rd base off R. Wells/Soto), Kevin Kouzmanoff (1, 2nd base off R. Wells/Soto)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Barton-Pennington
Oakland Athletics
Dallas Braden 6511141 3.78
Brad Ziegler (H,12) 0.2100010 2.76
Craig Breslow (H,5) 0.1000010 3.10
Michael Wuertz (H,3) 0.1211100 6.35
Andrew Bailey (BS,3) 0.2000010 1.69
Jerry Blevins (L,2-1) 0.1111300 4.44
IBB - Hill by Jerry Blevins
Pitches-Strikes - Dallas Braden 83-58, Brad Ziegler 17-11, Craig Breslow 5-4, Michael Wuertz 11-6, Andrew Bailey 10-7, Jerry Blevins 19-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dallas Braden 8-5, Michael Wuertz 1-0, Jerry Blevins 1-0
Batters Faced - Dallas Braden 23, Brad Ziegler 3, Craig Breslow 1, Michael Wuertz 4, Andrew Bailey 2, Jerry Blevins 5
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Theriot, 2B4000121 .279
Jeff Baker, 3B3111001 .250
   a- Kosuke Fukudome, PH-RF2121000 .289
Marlon Byrd, CF4020000 .328
Derrek Lee, 1B2000200 .228
Xavier Nady, RF3011010 .265
    Mike Fontenot, 3B0000000 .293
Alfonso Soriano, LF4000025 .272
Geovany Soto, C3120103 .276
Starlin Castro, SS3010012 .271
Randy Wells, P1000000 .200
   b- Tyler Colvin, PH1000011 .308
    Andrew Cashner, P0000000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
   c- Koyie Hill, PH0000100 .236
Totals3039357  
a-singled for Baker in the 8th
b-struck out for R. Wells in the 7th
c-was walked intentionally for Marmol in the 9th
Batting
2B - Starlin Castro (3, Braden)
HR - Jeff Baker (3, Braden)
SF - Xavier Nady (3)
SH - Starlin Castro (1), Randy Wells (3)
RBI - Jeff Baker (11), Kosuke Fukudome (24), Xavier Nady (19)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
E - Geovany Soto 2 (3, Missed catch of throw)
Chicago Cubs
Randy Wells 7722161 4.92
Andrew Cashner 1.1100000 0.00
Carlos Marmol (W,2-1) 0.2000100 1.76
WP - Randy Wells (1), Andrew Cashner (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Randy Wells 129-77, Andrew Cashner 14-9, Carlos Marmol 8-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Randy Wells 5-10, Andrew Cashner 2-2, Carlos Marmol 1-1
Batters Faced - Randy Wells 29, Andrew Cashner 5, Carlos Marmol 3
Game Information
Attendance - 36942
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Brian Knight, First Base - Gerry Davis, Second Base - Sam Holbrook, Third Base - Greg Gibson