Oakland 9, Chicago 5 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 33-33
The Conor Jackson Era starts off with a win (and with a brief, unmemorable appearance from the A's newly acquired left fielder), thanks in large part to an embarrassing defensive performance from the Cubs --- The A's scored 9 runs but had just 4 RBI, not exactly a common occurrence. They did add 13 hits and took advantage of the mistakes to put up two big innings to back Trevor Cahill.
The A's left the bases loaded in the first inning against the struggling Carlos Zambrano, he looked like he was settling down, retiring the next 6. Cahill breezed through the first three frames, and the game was scoreless after 3. The A's then started off the 4th with a walk to Kurt Suzuki and a hit by Kevin Kouzmanoff (who stayed hot with 3 more hits), a wild pitch and then a Jack Cust walk which loaded the bases. Mark Ellis plated the game's first run with a single, and then things fell apart for Derrek Lee and the Cubs. After Cliff Pennington grounded into a fielder's choice, it looked like the Cubs could get out of it with minimal damage with Cahill coming to the plate.
He grounded weakly to Lee, who had a shot at either a double play (with Cahill running) or forcing the runner at home --- but booted it instead, scoring a run to prolong the inning. On the very next play, Rajai Davis hit a grounder to short, but Lee dropped the throw, allowing 2 more runs to score. Zambrano stopped the damage there (thanks in part to a great catch by Marlon Byrd in center), but the A's never relinquished the lead after that.
Cahill ran into trouble in the 5th and 6th, giving up 4 runs, but overall looked better than his line, striking out 5 and showing pretty good command, and really only giving up one hard hit ball (the double by Chad Tracy). For some reason Lou Piniella let Zambrano hit for himself in a 5-4 game with a man on 2nd base (after an ill-advised throw by Jack Cust...seriously, cannot wait for him to be able to DH again) and Jerry Blevins retired him. I know Zambrano is a good hitting pitcher, but you have Xavier Nady (who didn't end up even being used), Geovany Soto and Jeff Baker on the bench.
The A's responded by scoring 3 in the 7th thanks again in part to Cubs fielding problems --- Tyler Colvin made two errors and turned a catchable ball into a Cliff Pennington triple / error that scored two runs. The Cubs had almost escaped damage from a bases loaded 0 out situation (that included another Colvin error) because Mark Ellis grounded into a rare 5-3-2 DP, but a wild pitch scored one, and then Pennington's 3B gave the A's back their 4-run lead.
The bullpen held the lead (Brad Ziegler just cannot face lefties --- Colvin absolutely crushed a homer off him) and the A's got back to .500. One final note --- the A's 9th run was scored because of a heads up play by Mark Ellis -- with runners at the corners and 1 out, Cliff Pennington hit a DP grounder to second, but Ellis stopped, forcing Ryan Theriot to throw to first and then tag out Ellis for the DP, allowing the runner on third to score on the non-force play. I love it when guys do things right.