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Chicago at Oakland

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Chi. Cubs (36-47)000000000020
Oakland (50-36) «00000010x151

A's score lone run on passed ball, hang on to first place

CBSSports.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Derek Norris had a huge impact by making a couple of big plays right at home plate.

Norris scored on a passed ball with two outs in the seventh inning, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Chicago Cubs 1-0 on Thursday.

He also put the tag on Starlin Castro trying to score, threw out a runner at second and called Dan Straily's best game as a major league pitcher.

Straily (5-2) pitched seven innings of one-hit ball after being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento earlier in the day. He made the start to allow a sore Jarrod Parker to get two extra days of rest.

"Even if I didn't have my best stuff I was going to give it everything I had," said Straily, who struck out six and walked three. "My slider was not as sharp as it's been but it was good enough."

Ryan Cook pitched the eighth and Grant Balfour finished for his 21st save in 21 chances, completing the two-hitter. Balfour has converted 39 consecutive save opportunities dating to last year, one off the team record held by Dennis Eckersley.

Norris set up the only run of the game when he walked with two outs in the seventh and went to third on Seth Smith's single.

Oakland then sent Eric Sogard to the plate to hit for Adam Rosales, and Matt Guerrier threw an 0-1 pitch to the outside part of the plate. Sogard swung and missed, and it went off the glove of Welington Castillo, allowing Norris to score the unearned run.

"I saw it go between his legs," Norris said. "You know the guy may bounce one in the dirt because he can't throw all fastballs and that's what you look for: any chance to score. I tried to kick it into another gear just in case the ball bounced right back to him but fortunately it kicked off to the right."

It was the first appearance for Guerrier (2-4) since he was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Castillo, catching Guerrier for the first time, wasn't sure what to expect from the pitch that got away.

"He made a good pitch," Castillo said. "I just didn't get a good read on it and it went between my legs."

Cubs starter Travis Wood allowed three hits over six innings in his third consecutive no-decision. He is 0-3 in his last six starts despite a 2.58 ERA over that stretch.

"You have to keep battling every single day," Wood said. "Their guy pitched awesome. He kept us off balance and off the scoreboard. I have to find a way to win these games."

The Cubs had a chance to score in the fourth but Yoenis Cespedes cut down Castro trying to come home from second on Alfonso Soriano's single to left field. Soriano was later thrown out by Norris attempting to steal second, ending the inning.

"I didn't think, when the ball was hit, he had a chance," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Cespedes. "That was a spectacular throw. I don't know if there's a left fielder with a stronger arm."

Castro walked to open the inning and advanced when Nate Schierholtz grounded out.

"That was perfect throw," Norris said. "It took one bounce and hopped right to my stomach."

The A's also had a potential run thrown out on the bases. Chris Young singled with one out in the seventh but was caught stealing by Castillo.

Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless ninth in his Cubs debut as the team matched a franchise record for players used before the All-Star break with 41. The Cubs also extended their franchise record by using 23 pitchers before the break.

Notes

  • Cubs OF Brian Bogusevic left after the top of third inning with left hamstring tightness.
  • The A's optioned C Stephen Vogt to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Straily.
  • The Cubs announced that RHP Carlos Villanueva (2-4, 3.45 ERA) will start Sunday's game against Pittsburgh, filling the spot vacated when RHP Scott Feldman was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Villanueva started the year in the rotation, but went to the bullpen when RHP Matt Garza came off the disabled list.
  • RHP Jeff Samardija (5-7, 3.34 ERA) will take the mound Friday night against the Pirates at Wrigley Field. He's 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA against the Pirates in his career, though only 1-2 against them this year.
  • LHP Tommy Milone (7-7, 4.17 ERA) will start for the A's in Kansas City. He's 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA during his past four starts.
  • According to Sports Features Group, the last time the Cubs lost a 1-0 game, with the lone run scored on a passed ball, was July 1, 1962, in Milwaukee.
 
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Derek Norris scores the game's only run before Chicago's Welington Castillo can recover after committing a passed ball.  (USATSI)
Derek Norris scores the game's only run before Chicago's Welington Castillo can recover after committing a passed ball. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Oakland

D. Straily
IP 7.0
H 1
ER 0
BB 3
K 6
Chicago

T. Wood
IP 6.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 1
K 5
 
Chicago (N.L.) Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Luis Valbuena, 3B3000100 .241
Starlin Castro, SS3010111 .236
Nate Schierholtz, RF4000000 .277
Alfonso Soriano, LF4010002 .257
Anthony Rizzo, 1B2000110 .245
Dioner Navarro, DH3000011 .280
Brian Bogusevic, CF1000011 .300
    Julio Borbon, CF2000000 .211
Darwin Barney, 2B3000000 .224
Welington Castillo, C3000030 .268
Totals2802037  
Batting
CS - Alfonso Soriano (4, 2nd base by Straily/Norris)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
PB - Welington Castillo (7)
Chicago (N.L.) Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Travis Wood 6300150 2.69
Matt Guerrier (L,2-4) 1210200 4.65
Pedro Strop 1000000 6.94
Pitches-Strikes - Travis Wood 101-66, Matt Guerrier 24-11, Pedro Strop 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Travis Wood 3-10, Pedro Strop 1-2
Batters Faced - Travis Wood 22, Matt Guerrier 6, Pedro Strop 3
Oakland Athletics
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Coco Crisp, CF4000002 .269
Jed Lowrie, 2B-SS3000100 .301
Josh Donaldson, 3B4010000 .314
Yoenis Cespedes, LF4000022 .221
Nate Freiman, 1B2010000 .287
    Brandon Moss, PH-1B1000000 .232
Chris Young, RF3010011 .194
Derek Norris, C2110110 .207
Seth Smith, DH3010012 .278
Adam Rosales, SS2000000 .197
Totals2815035  
a-popped out for Freiman in the 7th
b-walked for Rosales in the 7th
Batting
CS - Chris Young (2, 2nd base by Guerrier/Castillo)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Yoenis Cespedes 1
E - Jed Lowrie (12, Throwing)
Oakland Athletics
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Dan Straily (W,5-2) 7100360 4.52
Ryan Cook (H,12) 1000000 2.72
Grant Balfour (S,21) 1100010 1.85
Pitches-Strikes - Dan Straily 87-56, Ryan Cook 9-6, Grant Balfour 24-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dan Straily 4-9, Ryan Cook 1-2, Grant Balfour 2-1
Batters Faced - Dan Straily 23, Ryan Cook 3, Grant Balfour 5
Game Information
Attendance - 26967
Game Time - 2:42
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Brian Gorman, First Base - Manny Gonzalez, Second Base - Tony Randazzo, Third Base - Larry Vanover