Josh Donaldson is tearing things up offensively at home, and considering who he'll face on Tuesday night, there's little reason to believe he'll cool down.
Donaldson homered and doubled in a 7-5 win over St. Louis on Sunday, leaving him 10 for 21 with four homers, three doubles and eight RBIs in his last six home games.
The third baseman has emerged as an All-Star candidate while leading Oakland (48-35) with a .316 average and 53 RBIs. He's also third on the team with 13 home runs."If someone wants to say that I'm having an All-Star year so far, that's fine," said Donaldson. "I've said it a hundred times, if I just focus on helping our team win and try to do something productive for the team, the individual stuff is going to take care of itself."
The A's have been productive in key spots as of late, hitting .444 (16 for 36) with runners in scoring position while winning four of five on their current homestand.
Jed Lowrie has three hits in his last four run-producing situations, and is batting .457 with two homers and nine RBIs over a nine-game hit streak overall.
The man who has scored more runs than any other Oakland player is a bit banged up, however. Leadoff hitter Coco Crisp could be held out Tuesday after leaving Sunday's game in the fourth inning with back spasms.
The A's, who are an AL-best 26-13 at home, will try to keep swinging the bats well against Rusin, who will make the eighth start of his major league career and his first in 2013.
Rusin is filling in for Scott Feldman , who was dealt along with Steve Clevenger to the Orioles on Tuesday for pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop . The left-hander was brutal during his time in the majors last season, going 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA, but he's 5-3 with a 2.33 ERA in his last eight outings for Triple-A Iowa in 2013.
Donaldson is hitting .354 with five homers and a 1.092 OPS in 82 at-bats against southpaws this season.
The A's counter with A.J. Griffin (6-6, 3.56), who hopes to build on a career-best performance in his last outing.
Griffin struck out seven while tossing a two-hitter in a 5-0 victory over Cincinnati on Wednesday. He had been 0-3 with a 4.02 ERA over his previous five starts - all Oakland losses.
Griffin has never faced the Cubs (35-45), though he's 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA in four career starts against NL opponents.
He'll attempt to hold down a Chicago offense that has been showing signs of improvement, averaging 6.4 runs with nine homers and 22 doubles over its last seven games.
Alfonso Soriano helped the Cubs win for the fourth time in five games with a pair of doubles in Sunday's 7-6 victory at Seattle. He went 7 for 14 with two homers, three doubles and five RBIs in the series."Doubles are good. Runs are better," said second baseman Darwin Barney , who also had two doubles. "Once something good happens, good things start going through your mind, and that's the whole battle in this game."
Chicago won four of six against Oakland in two previous interleague series.
|June 30, 2013||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Fractured left rib|
|June 15, 2013||David DeJesus||15-Day DL||Right shoulder sprain|
|June 14, 2013||David DeJesus||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right shoulder|
|June 12, 2013||Zach Putnam||60-Day DL||Right elbow soreness|
|June 11, 2013||Zach Putnam||Day-to-Day||Left game - Undisclosed injury|
|May 27, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|June 29, 2013||Jarrod Parker||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring cramp|
|June 20, 2013||Derek Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin injury|
|June 11, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|May 06, 2013||Jarrod Parker||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained neck|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Derek Norris ' knack for big swings in big moments bailed out the Oakland Athletics again.
Norris hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning, and the A's rallied to beat the Chicago Cubs 8-7 on Tuesday night to regain the AL West lead.
Five of the catcher's 11 career home runs have given Oakland the lead.
"He does his best work late in games with runners in scoring position," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's gotten big hits for us since he got here last year. If you're going to get a few hits in certain situations, obviously the bigger situations are the type of things that get the respect of your teammates and give us confidence when he comes up there in big situations he can get it done."
Norris, who entered the game with a .195 batting average backing up the injured John Jaso , sent the 2-2 changeup from James Russell (1-2) over the left-center field wall for his fourth home run this season. Josh Donaldson and Chris Young also homered to put the A's a half-game ahead of Texas, which lost 9-2 at Seattle.
Lefty Stephen Vogt would've started at catcher for the A's against Scott Feldman , but the Cubs traded the right-hander in the morning. When Norris showed up at the ballpark, he learned lefty Chris Rusin had been called up from Triple-A Iowa to take Feldman's place.
"I figured it was probably my turn," Norris said, grinning.
Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer to highlight a five-run fourth inning and Welington Castillo drove in three runs for Chicago, which twice blew a two-run lead. The Cubs are 35-46 at their season's midpoint after another win evaporated because the bullpen couldn't hold a lead.
"Just didn't make a good pitch when I needed to and paid for it," Russell said.
Dan Otero (1-0) tossed one scoreless inning for his first career win, and Grant Balfour finished it for his 20th straight save this season and 38th overall.
Oakland can once again thank its on-again, off-again catcher for a comeback. Besides his big home run, Norris threw out Luis Valbuena for a double play in the ninth when Balfour struck out Starlin Castro .
After tossing his first complete game to beat Homer Bailey and the Cincinnati Reds his last time out, A's starter A.J. Griffin gave up 10 hits and tied his career high with seven earned runs in 5 2-3 innings. Bailey threw his second career no-hitter Tuesday night to lead the Reds past the San Francisco Giants , 3-0.
"I'm just fortunate enough that I have a team that scores a ton of runs," Griffin said.
Rusin allowed six hits, struck out two and walked none in 3 1-3 innings for a no-decision in his first major league start this season. He was pitching on three days' rest, so Cubs manager Dale Sveum pulled Rusin after 61 pitches.
The A's roughed up Rusin at the outset.
Donaldson hit his 14th home run in the first, and Young followed with his eighth longball of the season in the second to give Oakland a 3-0 lead. The A's missed a chance to pile on - and perhaps run Rusin out of the game even earlier - when Jed Lowrie struck out with the bases loaded to end the second.
While Rusin regrouped in his short stint, so did Chicago's offense.
Soriano started the scoring burst when he sent the tying homer over the wall in center for his 10th home run. The Cubs sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, with Darwin Barney adding a sacrifice fly and Castillo hitting an RBI single to stretch Chicago's lead to 5-3.
The Cubs collapsed on defense in the bottom half behind Carlos Villanueva , who allowed two unearned runs in 3 1-3 innings of relief. Running back and to his right on Adam Rosales ' short fly, shortstop Castro collided with Soriano in left field and the ball dropped. Coco Crisp followed with a tying, two-run single.
Castillo's two-run double over the head of Young in center put the Cubs back ahead, 7-5, and chased Griffin. But as has been the case so often this season, Chicago couldn't protect its lead.
"Just gotta get the ball down. It's that simple," Russell said. "It's not that difficult. It's just that one thing. Get the ball down and that won't happen."
NOTES: Melvin said RHP Jarrod Parker felt a slight discomfort and tightness in his right hamstring during a bullpen session. Melvin said a decision will be made Wednesday on whether Parker, who left with the injury in the fourth inning of Saturday's loss against St. Louis, will make his next scheduled start Thursday against the Cubs. ... The Cubs had never played a regular-season game at the Oakland Coliseum. The franchise has now played in every current major league city and every active ballpark except the new Yankee Stadium. ... Bartolo Colon (11-2, 2.79 ERA) looks to win his ninth straight start when the A's face Matt Garza (3-1, 3.82 ERA) and the Cubs on Wednesday.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP