Athletics 12, Cubs 10

MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs lost a shootout to the Oakland Athletics in the spring opener, 12-10 on Sunday at HoHoKam Park, as Oakland’s Brandon Allen delivered a grand slam and seven RBIs.

The good: Despite giving up a dozen runs, not all Cubs pitching was bad. In fact, the pitchers started strong as the first nine A’s batters were retired. Starter Rodrigo Lopez pitched two perfect innings followed by a 1-2-3 inning from Carlos Marmol. Rafael Dolis also had a perfect inning while lefty Trever Miller retired four of the five batters he faced.

The bad: Jeff Beliveau and Dae-Eun Rhee gave up most of the A’s runs in a two-inning stretch. Beliveau didn’t even retire a batter, giving up a home run and three walks to load the bases. Not only did Rhee allow his three inherited runners to score (all on Allen’s grand slam), he also was charged with five runs (four earned) himself.

Beyond the box score: Two Cubs runners getting picked off first base in one inning didn’t look good, but manager Dale Sveum wasn’t all that displeased. If Sveum was bothered by anything, it’s that both Darwin Barney and David DeJesus thought about advancing on pitches in the dirt but second-guessed themselves and were cut down returning to the first-base bag. Sveum is preaching to trust your first instinct on the bases.

Up next: Right-hander Ryan Dempster will make his first outing of the spring in a 1:05 MST start against the A’s at HoHoKam Stadium. Oakland will counter with right-hander Bartolo Colon.