Bartolo Colon came into Tuesday night’s game as one of the hottest pitchers in the Majors, but it was Matt Garza who came out on top as the Chicago Cubs beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1.
Garza pitched eight strong innings, striking out five while giving up only four hits with three walks on 114 pitches. He’s been the subject of consistent trade rumors, and his performance Tuesday will only fuel interest from clubs looking to add a quality starter to the roster before the trade deadline.
Colon took the loss, the first time that’s happened since May 9. The Cubs immediately tagged him for a run in the opening frame. Starlin Castro singled with one out, and following a pop out by Nate Schierholtz, he’d reach second on a wild pitch — Colon’s first since 2009. Alfonso Soriano then brought Castro home on a line drive to center to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead.
Both pitchers settled down in the second, but the Cubs would add another run on a solo shot by Luis Valbuena in the top of the third. The third baseman connected on an inside fastball that was nearly caught by Josh Reddick as it cleared the wall in the right field corner, but the ball bounced off his glove, and the Gold Glove winning right fielder was clearly frustrated that he didn’t make the play as he smacked the wall with his glove.
Oakland struggled to get anything going offensively, but Brandon Moss would get them on the scoreboard with a blast to right-center in the fourth. It was the 15th homer of the year for Moss, and there was never any doubt as he read Garza’s inside curveball all the way.
In the middle innings it became clear that this would not be one of Colon’s sharpest outings. Still, he was able to get out of jams in the fifth and seventh innings, and he’d exit the game in the eighth having given up nine hits and one walk while surrendering only the two runs. He did not record a strikeout in the contest.
Sean Doolittle came out of the bullpen to work the eighth, and he retired the first two Chicago batters before giving up a double to Dioner Navarro. Brian Bogusevic followed it up with a double of his own on a line drive that got past Yoenis Cespedes in left field, allowing Navarro to score and give the Cubs a valuable insurance run.
It was a rough night on defense for Cespedes, who had misread a ball earlier in the game off the bat of Schierholtz, resulting in a triple. He didn’t do much better at the plate, going 0-for-3 with a walk, and his in his final plate appearance in the bottom of the eighth he popped out to end the inning with Coco Crisp on third.
Jesse Chavez pitched the ninth without incident, and although John Jaso drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the frame, Reddick struck out against Kevin Gregg to end the game.
It was a pretty forgettable night all around for the A’s, although there were fireworks after the game, so the sellout crowd had something to cheer for despite the loss. The Texas Rangers lost in extra innings in Seattle, so Oakland remains ahead by a half game in the AL West standings.
Dan Straily will get the start in place of Jarrod Parker in tomorrow’s series-deciding game. The change gives Parker a few extra days to rest after suffering a severe cramp in his hamstring against the Cardinals last Saturday. He’ll face the Royals this Saturday in the weekend series.