MESA, Ariz. (CBS SF/AP) — Even after a big game in spring training, Brandon Allen knows he still has work to do. If he wants to stick in the majors, he needs to be more consistent.
“I want to smooth some things out,” Allen said Sunday after what he called the best Cactus League game of his career.
Allen belted a grand slam and drove in seven runs, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Cubs 12-10 to spoil Chicago’s spring training opener.
A’s manager Bob Melvin knows exactly what the team wants to see out of Allen.
“Stay away from deeper slumps,” Melvin said. “We want to see him more consistent at the plate.”
None of Allen’s damage came against Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez.
He pitched two perfect innings, striking out two.
“I want to do my job and make the team,” said Lopez, who went 6-6 with a 4.42 ERA for the Cubs last season. “Playing at Wrigley, it doesn’t have any match in baseball.”
New manager Dale Sveum was happy with Lopez’s outing.
“He looked great,” Sveum said. “The guy is smart. He knows what to do. He came into camp in incredible shape. He’s definitely in the mix.”
Chicago closer Carlos Marmol retired all three batters he faced, striking out one.
Jeff Beliveau, however, failed to get an out, giving up three walks and a run-scoring single by Josh Reddick. Beliveau was charged with four earned runs after Allen deposited a pitch by Dae-eun Rhee into the Cubs’ bullpen.
Eric Sogard then hit a solo homer off Rhee. Allen later hit a two-run double off Rhee and drove in the decisive run on a ninth-inning grounder.
Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy yielded three runs—two earned, and four hits in three innings. Darwin Barney got the Cubs off to a fast start with a two-run double off McCarthy.
“I’m not too far off where I’d like to be,” McCarthy said. “At the end I was tired. But it kind of gives me a good gauge of where I need to be.”
The A’s led 9-3 before the Cubs scored a single run in the fifth and then five off Edgar Gonzalez to tie the game at 9 in the sixth.
Oakland broke the tie in the eighth on a run-scoring grounder by Brandon Moss.
The Cubs pulled even again on Jae-Hoon Ha’s infield single in the bottom of the eighth.
Allen put the A’s ahead again on a run-scoring grounder in the ninth off Marcos Mateo. Josh Donaldson’s infield single knocked in the final run.
Travis Schlichting allowed a run in the eighth, then pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
“I didn’t realize he had that kind of repertoire,” Melvin said. “He’s got a really good changeup to go along with a sinker and slider.”
Barney finished 2 for 2 but was picked off on the bases, the second of two consecutive Cubs caught wandering off first by catcher Kurt Suzuki in the fourth inning. David DeJesus was the other.
“Last year, I had a little bit of arm tenderness. I wasn’t really feeling the greatest. So I tried to back off a little bit. This year I feel really good and strong,” Suzuki said. “I’m excited with the way I feel.”
Despite the miscues, Sveum said he wants the Cubs to take an aggressive approach on the bases.
“You’ll probably see some outs in spring training. Hopefully we’ll be smarter than that in the regular season,” he said. “We want guys to understand about capturing bases that are there. It’s an attitude we want to create.”
NOTES: The Cubs began their 34th straight spring schedule in Mesa, the longest active streak in the Cactus League. They are set to open a new park in Mesa in two years. This is the Athletics’ 31st consecutive spring in Phoenix. But when the Cubs move to their new digs, the A’s could end up moving to the Cubs’ old park.
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