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A's 8, Cubs 7

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Derek Norris belted a three-run home run on a two-out, two-strike pitch in the eighth inning Tuesday night, rallying the Oakland A's past the short-handed Chicago Cubs reliever James Russell 8-7 in a 3-hour, 18-minute interleague slugfest.

The dramatic win, Oakland's 10th in 13 games against National League competition this season, allowed the A's to overtake the Texas Rangers atop the American League West standings.

Playing a regular-season game in Oakland for the first time in their history, the Cubs saw their record fall to 4-3 on their current nine-game trip despite twice building two-run leads, the last of which the result of a two-RBI double by Welington Castillo in the sixth inning.

The Cubs suited up only 24 players on a day that began with three trades, one of which sent Tuesday's scheduled starter, Scott Feldman, to the Baltimore Orioles. Left-hander Chris Rusin was summoned quickly from Triple-A Iowa to make his first big-league start of the season.

Chicago acquired three players -- right-handed starter Jake Arrieta and right-handed reliever Pedro Strop in the Feldman deal with Baltimore, and right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier from the Los Angeles Dodgers -- and dealt away four -- Feldman and backup catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles, right-handed reliever Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers and minor league second baseman Ronald Torreyes to the Houston Astros.

The A's, who used a pair of home runs to build an early three-run lead, rallied in the last of the eighth following Josh Donaldson's inning-opening single off the Cubs' third pitcher, Blake Parker.

The righty got the next two A's out, then was pulled in favor of lefty James Russell (1-2).

After Russell walked left-handed-hitting Josh Reddick, Cubs manager Dale Sveum elected to keep the lefty in the game to face the .195-hitting Norris, a right-handed hitter, instead of calling upon right-hander Hector Rondon. The A's had two powerful left-handed hitters, Brandon Moss and Seth Smith, available on the bench had Rondon entered the game.

Russell got two quick strikes on Norris, then threw a pair of balls before the catcher belted a towering shot just over the 388-foot marker in center field for his fourth home run of the season.

Grant Balfour, after walking Luis Valbuena to open the ninth, recorded his 20th consecutive save, preserving the win for Oakland's third pitcher, Dan Otero (1-0). Norris helped close out Otero's first major league win, throwing out Valbuena on a steal attempt to complete a double play after Balfour struck out Starlin Castro.

After the teams combined for three home runs and split 10 runs in the first four innings, Castillo's double over the head of A's center fielder Chris Young gave the Cubs their second two-run lead of the night. Neither time were they able to hold on.

Castillo's key hit capped a three-RBI night and came after Dioner Navarro and Brian Bogusevic began the Chicago sixth with singles off A's starter A.J. Griffin.

Navarro, a catcher who served as the team's designated hitter while Castillo caught the game, added two singles to his double, a 3-for-4 outing that increased the average of Cubs DHs this season to .444.

Down 3-0 and held to one hit through three innings by Griffin, the Cubs caught up in a hurry on Alfonso Soriano's 10th homer of the season, a no-doubter to center field that scored Castro and Nate Schierholtz ahead of him. It was Soriano's first three-run homer of the season and the 382nd of his career.

The Cubs out-hit the A's 13-10. Donaldson, who opened the game's scoring with a two-run home run in the first inning, Nate Freiman and Norris all had two hits apiece for Oakland.

The A's stuck with Griffin through a six-hit, five-run fourth inning that started innocently enough but ended with a thud.

After Castro reached on an infield single to shortstop, Schierholtz blooped a broken-bat single just out of the reach of A's second baseman Jed Lowrie. Soriano then stunned the Oakland crowd with a powerful shot to center field that immediately erased a 3-0 A's lead.

Darwin Barney's sacrifice fly and Castillo's RBI single added fourth and fifth runs to the uprising that put the Cubs on top 5-3.

With Rusin having already surrendered a two-run home run to Josh Donaldson, his 14th, in the first inning and a solo shot to Chris Young, his eighth, in the second, Sveum wasted little time getting him out of the game once Chicago took the lead. Rusin retired Josh Reddick on a groundball to start the Oakland fourth, after which he was relieved by Carlos Villanueva.

The A's tied the game against Villanueva later in the inning, thanks in large part to a pop fly off the bat of Eric Sogard on which Castro, the Cubs shortstop, reached in front of left fielder Soriano and deflected the ball away. The error led to two unearned runs -- and a tie score at 5-all -- on a single by Coco Crisp that plated Norris and Sogard.

Rusin pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He struck out two and didn't walk a batter.

NOTES: The Cubs expect Arrieta, Strop and Guerrier to join the club Wednesday. They will have to make two roster moves in order to add all three. ... The O.co Coliseum was the 121st different ballpark in which a Cubs regular-season game has been played. They've played at least one game in 29 of the current 30 stadiums, missing only the new Yankee Stadium. ... The Cubs had $5.5 million to spend on players when all international prospects from countries not eligible for the Major League Draft became available Tuesday. By the end of the day, they'd exhausted nearly half of it on 16-year-old Venezuelan SS Gleyber Torres ($1.7 million), the second-ranked prospect on Baseball America's list, 18-year-old Dominican Republic RHP Jefferson Mejia ($850,000) and 16-year-old Colombian RHP Erling Moreno ($800,000). ... A's RHP Jerrod Parker struggled through a bullpen session with continuing pain in his right hamstring, leaving his scheduled start in Thursday's series finale a bit of a question mark. The A's still have him penciled in to face Chicago LHP Travis Wood. ... A's RHP Sonny Gray was named the starting pitcher for the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 17 in Reno. Gray leads the PCL in strikeouts this season with 98 in 95 1/3 innings. ... The A's signed a pair of shortstops -- 16-year-old Nicaraguan Jesus Lopez and 16-year-old Dominican Carlos Hiciano -- from the list of international prospects who became available Tuesday.

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