Straily, who was sent to Sacramento last week, was called back up to start for Parker who is nursing a sore right hamstring.
Travis Wood, Chicago’s starter, was superb as well going six shutout innings while allowing a pair of hits.
The Cubs had the first real scoring chance of the game against Straily in the fourth. Starlin Castro led off the inning with a walk and reached second on a Nate Schierholtz ground out. Then, Alfonso Soriano clubbed the Cubs’ first hit of the afternoon against Straily. The sharp single to left got to Yoenis Cespedes on a couple of hops and the left fielder fired a one-hop strike right on top of home plate to nail Castro at home to keep the scoreless tie intact.
Oakland’s defense wasn’t done yet though, as the fourth ended when Derek Norris cut down Soriano trying to steal second. It was a perfect throw. Soriano had a great jump, but Norris got rid of the ball quickly and could not have placed it better if he walked to second and handed it to Adam Rosales.
The play by Norris was the second time in the series that he threw out a potential base-stealer. That coupled with a few hits in the three games are hopefully an indicator that the 23-year-old backstop is turning things around in his young career.
The opportunity would be the last for the Cubs until the ninth, as Straily cruised all the way through the seventh before Ryan Cook had a perfect eighth inning.
The A’s got the game’s lone run in the seventh in rather bizarre fashion. Chris Young singled to left with one out, but was thrown out trying to steal second on what looked like a botched hit-and-run with Norris at the plate. Norris eventually drew a walk and went to third on a Seth Smith single.
With runners at the corners and two outs, Eric Sogard pinch hit for Adam Rosales. Cubs’ reliever Matt Guerrier threw a pitch that the catcher, Wellington Castillo, couldn’t reel in. The pitch went to the back stop and Norris immediately broke for home. The lack of hesitation by Norris allowed him to score without a play and put the A’s in front 1-0.
Grant Balfour got in a little trouble in the ninth when he surrendered a two out single, and then an error by Jed Lowrie put runners on first and second for Soriano, who had proved to be an A’s killer all series. Though he was certainly not the guy Balfour wanted to see, Soriano managed only to hit a lazy fly ball to right field to end the ball game.
Again, this team finds ways to win game in and game out. On a day where the bats weren’t there, the pitching staff certainly was. This coming after a game Tuesday where the pitching staff really struggled and the offense picked them up in an 8-7 win.
Notching the win Thursday capped off a 6-2 home stand for the A’s. They’re just the second American League team to 50 wins and are 28-14 at home. The home stand was much needed after a dismal road trip through Texas and Seattle.
The Green and Gold now head on the road for six games through Kansas City and Pittsburgh before returning home for three against the Red Sox heading into the All-Star Break.
– Straily has now been involved in two 1-0 wins this season. The other was on May 21 in Texas. In those games, Straily has gone 14 innings, allowing four hits while striking out 11 and walking three.
– Grant Balfour has converted 39 consecutive saves dating back to last season. He is one shy of tying Dennis Eckersley’s club record of 40. Balfour is 21-21 this season in save opportunities in 2013.
– This was Oakland’s sixth shutout of the season. They’ve also been shutout six times.
– The A’s are 16-10 in one-run games, 11-4 in interleague play, and improved their record to 8-30 when scoring three or fewer runs.
– Nate Freiman continues his impressive rookie season. The big right-hander had never played higher than AA before this season. He went 1-2 on Thursday and improved his average on the season to .287. The out he recorded was even hit hard. It was a sharp liner up the middle that was snared by the pitcher, Wood. The A’s grabbed Freiman off of waivers from the Astros in late March. The move is just another that reminds us why Billy Beane is one of the best in the business.
– Jarrod Parker will be back in action on Saturday for the A’s in game two of the series against the Royals.