How it happened: Cubs manager Dale Sveum talked before the game about starting pitcher Travis Wood (5-7) being the deserving choice as Chicago’s All-Star representative. The lefty backed up that claim with six shutout innings against Oakland, surrendering just three hits with five strikeouts and one walk. Trouble was, the Cubs couldn’t generate anything with the bats against Oakland right-hander Dan Straily. Straily (5-2) threw seven innings of one-hit ball in his first start since being recalled from Triple-A. The A’s finally snapped a scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Matt Guerrier, who was making his Chicago debut. Catcher Welington Castillo appeared to get crossed up on a low breaking ball, and it squirted past him for a passed ball, allowing Derek Norris to score from third. Things got exciting in the ninth after A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie made a throwing error with two outs that put the tying run at second base. But Grant Balfour got Alfonso Soriano to fly out to right to end it.
What it means: The Cubs missed out on a chance to win four straight series for the first time since August 2011. Still, they finished 5-4 on this three-city, nine-game road trip and had to feel decent about the way they played away from Wrigley Field.
Outside the box: Guerrier and Pedro Strop -- acquired in separate trades Tuesday -- each made their Cub debuts out of the bullpen. Guerrier took the loss, and he had to be frustrated considering he had two outs and no one on base before the winning rally started. Strop delivered a 1-2-3 eighth. Balfour, the A’s closer, has converted 38 straight save chances, the longest active streak in the majors.
Up next:The Cubs return home and open a three-game series against Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. First pitch is 3:05 p.m. CT, rather than the standard 1:20 CT. That gives players a bit more time to recover, considering they’re flying across two time zones from the West Coast on Thursday night. Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 3.34) will oppose the Pirates’ Francisco Liriano (7-3, 2.23).