Fukudome delivers series win over A's

Fukudome delivers series win over A's

CHICAGO -- Who was happiest after the Cubs' 3-2 come-from-behind win on Thursday over the Oakland Athletics? Was it Randy Wells, who may have finally corrected his delivery? Or Xavier Nady, who delivered a game-tying RBI in the eighth? Or Ryan Theriot, whose walk set up the game-winning hit? Maybe Lou Piniella, whose stress levels have been tested?

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Kosuke Fukudome slapped a game-winning RBI single with one out in the ninth inning for the win Thursday, resulting in an ear-to-ear grin for his Japanese hitting coach, Kyosuke Sasaki, in town for a 10-day visit.

Fukudome has not started since Saturday, struggling through a .233 stretch since May 16. Sasaki has been working with the outfielder in the cage but said he hasn't changed Fukudome's approach at the plate. He's been working on the mental part of the game.

"The only thing I said was, 'Show everybody what you can do,' and that's the only thing I stressed," Sasaki said.

And Fukudome did.

"If he saw my face on the hit, it may relieve some stress," Sasaki said, grinning and pounding his heart.

The Cubs need a lift. This was their 25th game decided by one run, and the team now is 10-15. They won their first series since May 25-27 against the Dodgers and have won back-to-back games for the first time since May 22-25.

"It feels good to win a couple in a row," Piniella said.

"Nothing's been easy," Nady said. "Our work has been cut out for us. You can pinpoint it on offensive production. Hopefully we can make it less stressful and have big innings and bigger hits. There have been a lot of close games."

Geovany Soto walked to open the ninth against Jerry Blevins (2-1) and moved up on Starlin Castro's sacrifice. Pinch-hitter Koyie Hill was intentionally walked, and Theriot, who had one walk in the month of May, walked to load the bases. Fukudome slapped the first pitch to right for the game-winner.

"I didn't know much about that pitcher," Fukudome said through interpreter Hiro Aoyama. "I was just trying to have solid contact. That was the only thing I was focusing on."

"You want to throw strikes," Blevins said. "That's your No. 1 job as a pitcher. It's heartbreaking when you team fights back ... and the relievers come in and do their job, and you lose the game. It's embarrassing. I just didn't do my job. It's as simple as that."

It was Fukudome's third game-winning RBI of the season and his second big hit of the game. He entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth with the Cubs trailing, 2-1, and singled off Michael Wuertz. Fukudome moved up on Marlon Byrd's infield hit that third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff deflected and again when Derrek Lee walked to load the bases and chase Wuertz. Nady hit a sacrifice fly off Andrew Bailey to tie the game.

"Obviously, you want everybody to be hot but realistically speaking, it's like what you saw today with [Fukudome]," Theriot said. "That stuff goes a long way more than somebody getting four hits -- those two hits he got were big hits."

Wells began his self-proclaimed new season with a no-decision. Wells said before Thursday's game he was starting over and was now more over the rubber. He got advice from four-time Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux plus pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

"It was nice to get through the first inning," Wells said. "It's unfortunate it took this long to get the problem fixed."

One of his goals was to avoid trouble pitching out of the stretch. Wells gave up an "uh oh, here we go again" double down the left-field line to leadoff hitter Rajai Davis but escaped a potential mess by retiring the next three hitters.

Jeff Baker put the Cubs on the board with a solo homer with one out in the first and Davis tied it with an RBI single with two outs in the Oakland fifth. Mark Ellis put the A's ahead when drove a 3-2 pitch from Wells into the left-field seats in the seventh for his second homer.

Wells finished the inning but not without a visit from Piniella before Conor Jackson's at-bat.

"I had a good feeling we were going to win the game," Wells said. "I told [Piniella] I was going to win the game. I said, 'Just give me a chance,' and he said, 'Last batter.'"

Wells got Jackson to pop up, and did not get the win. Still, he was nearly as happy as Sasaki.

"Winning ballgames is what it's all about," Wells said. "How it happens, how we get to the last run in the ninth doesn't matter. It's all about turning that radio loud in the clubhouse and celebrating. Any win is good, winning the series is huge."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.