CHICAGO -- Derrek Lee made up for his shaky performance from a night earlier with a home run and a great defensive stop at first base.
That Lee would rebound so quickly was not a surprise for the Chicago Cubs, who beat Oakland Oakland 6-2 on Wednesday night.What was a bit startling was a sacrifice bunt from Alfonso Soriano -- his first ever in a Cubs uniform and first in four years.
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"Everybody was surprised, and everybody was laughing," Soriano said. "It was a good play. They gave me a green light to do whatever I want."What Soriano and all the Cubs, including winning pitcher Ryan Dempster, really want is to shake this season-long funk before it's too late. The win Wednesday night was only Chicago's seventh in its past 19 games."I can do whatever I can to make the team better and win, and I'm more than happy to do it," Soriano said.Dempster (5-5) gave up eight hits and two runs, striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings.A's starter Gio Gonzalez (6-5) surrendered eight hits and a season-high six runs in five innings.Lee, in a 1-for-13 slump, led off the bottom of the second by lining his eighth homer of the season into the left-field bleachers, tying the score at 1. Soriano walked one out later and moved to third on Geovany Soto's liner to center that was scored a double when Ryan Sweeney fell down fielding it. Starlin Castro followed with an RBI single to left, and Soto was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a strong throw from Conor Jackson."That's the great thing about baseball. You have a chance to redeem yourself the next day," said the normally sure-handed Lee, who made two of Chicago's four errors in a sloppy loss Tuesday night."I had a terrible night last night. It was embarrassing. So you try to come back and help your team. ... Last night was not fun."Castro hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to make it 3-1 in the fourth. It followed singles by Lee and Xavier Nady and the sacrifice bunt by Soriano -- his first since he was with the Nationals in 2006 and only the ninth of his major league career -- and an intentional walk to Soto.Nady had a two-out RBI single, a hard smash that went past third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and made it 4-1 in the fifth, and Soriano followed with a two-run double down the right-field line.But his bunt was what had his teammate talking."It just shows you right there he cares about us winning more than anything he does personally," Dempster said. "It really brought a spark to us."The A's scored a run in the first when Jackson, who was acquired Tuesday from Arizona, and Daric Barton opened with back-to-back singles and Sweeney delivered a sacrifice fly. But with two runners still on, Dempster escaped the big inning by getting Kurt Suzuki to hit into a 1-4-3 double play."He mixed it up pretty well and kept the ball down in the zone," Oakland manager Bob Geren said of Dempster. "But we had a chance to get him early."Dempster, who had a baserunner in each of the first five innings, was backed by three nice defensive plays from third baseman Jeff Baker."He got into some jams pretty much every inning," Jackson said. "He's not super-overpowering. Kind of works the corners and really doesn't give you much to hit."On an RBI grounder from Barton in the seventh, Lee made a nice stop to keep the ball from getting through for a single.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said before the game that it's too early to plan whether the team will be subtracting or adding as the trade deadline approaches at the end of next month. "We're not 17 back, we're 7 1/2. I like to think these guys know the spot we're in," Hendry said. "You can't defend how we've played. We just have to fight our way out of it." After the win, the Cubs were within 6 1/2 games of the NL Central lead. ... A's OF Coco Crisp had his first rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday and went 2-for-3. Crisp, on the DL with a strained chest muscle, is on a 10-day program and will not be activated on the current road trip, Geren said. ... Kouzmanoff had his 15-game hitting streak end, going 0-for-3.