CHICAGO (AP) — Kosuke Fukudome, benched recently due to a slump at the plate, singled to start a tying rally in the eighth inning before driving in the winning run with another single in the ninth to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 3-2 win over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
The Cubs won their first series since late May and have their first winning streak of any kind since taking three in a row from May 22-25. The A's have lost five of their last six and are two game under .500, equaling their low-water mark this season.
Jerry Blevins (2-1) opened the ninth by walking Geovany Soto, who went to second on Starlin Castro's sacrifice. After pinch-hitter Koyie Hill was intentionally walked, Ryan Theriot walked to load the bases. On the next pitch, Fukudome singled through a drawn-in infield.
Signed to a four-year, $48 million contract before the 2008 season, Fukudome had gotten off to fast starts the last two seasons but has quickly and dramatically fallen off. He entered Thursday's game batting .233 since May 16, and manager Lou Piniella decided to platoon Xavier Nady and rookie Tyler Colvin in right field.
Pinch-hitting with one out in the eighth, Fukudome singled off Michael Wuertz. Marlon Byrd followed with a single and Derrek Lee walked to load the bases. Nady then greeted Athletics closer Andrew Bailey with a sacrifice fly to tie it 2-2.
Carlos Marmol (2-1) escaped a first-and-third, one-out jam in the ninth by getting Greg Gross to pop out and Rajai Davis to ground out.
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.
Cubs starter Randy Wells also pitched well, giving up two runs on seven hits in seven innings, but is 0-5 with a 5.89 ERA in his last nine starts.
NOTES: Braden retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced. ... Before drawing a key ninth-inning walk, Theriot was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts on the day a bobblehead in his likeness was given to fans. ... 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."