OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — One bad pitch blew what would've given the Chicago Cubs something they've rarely achieved this season: a winning streak.
Derek Norris hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning off reliever James Russell, rallying the Oakland Athletics past the Cubs 8-7 on Tuesday night.
"Just got to 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."
The Cubs had taken a 7-5 lead in the sixth and seemingly had control of the game.
Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer to highlight a five-run fourth and Welington Castillo drove in three runs for Chicago, which twice blew a two-run lead. The Cubs, who have won three or more games in a row only three times this year, are 35-46 at their season's midpoint after another win evaporated because the bullpen couldn't hold a lead.
"It's almost comical to see this happen every single night we have a lead and getting beat by guys that sometimes hardly even hit home runs," manager Dale Sveum said.
Norris, who entered the game with a .195 batting average as the backup for injured catcher John Jaso, sent a 2-2 changeup from Russell (1-2) to left-center for his fourth home run this season. Josh Donaldson and Chris Young also homered to give the A's a half-game lead over Texas in the AL West after the Rangers lost 9-2 at Seattle.
Five of Norris' 11 career home runs have given Oakland the lead.
"He can't get really (anything) down in the strike zone. His changeup's either short or hung, and can't spot a fastball down and away. Basically, it's just no location," Sveum said of Russell's recent struggles. "The confidence probably isn't too good right now."