Cubs celebrate with Cactus home-opening win

Cubs celebrate with Cactus home-opening win

MESA, Ariz. -- The defending World Series champion Cubs displayed their trophy on the field before the game, and the sellout crowd of 14,929 at Sloan Park gave them a standing ovation as they took the field for the Cactus League opener against the Athletics.

Matt Joyce and No. 4 A's prospect Matt Chapman nearly spoiled the day as both hit home runs for the A's but Minor Leaguer Charcer Burks smacked a tie-breaking leadoff shot in the seventh to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory on Saturday.

"It was different," Chicago starter Mike Montgomery said of the loud reception. "I've been in a few Spring Trainings now, and it was definitely a different experience. It was hard to control the adrenaline today a little bit. Usually in spring, it's more laid back. Today, there was a lot of energy out there."

Montgomery's strikeout

Montgomery, who could share the Cubs' fifth-starter spot with Brett Anderson, walked two and struck out two in one inning, throwing 24 pitches.

"It felt good to get it out of the way, first time facing hitters this spring," Montgomery said. "I've definitely got some stuff to work on. I was a little erratic, and that's just a timing thing."

Addison Russell walked to open the Chicago second, and one out later, he reached third on Jon Jay's double. Both scored on Matt Szczur's single. Ian Happ, ranked No. 2 on's list of Cubs prospects, followed with a double and Szczur tallied on Jason Heyward's groundout for a 3-0 lead, chasing A's starter Jesse Hahn.

Hahn, who is battling for the fifth-starter spot on the A's with Raul Alcantara, was charged with three runs on four hits and one walk in 1 2/3 innings. Alcantara pitched the third and retired the side in order.

Oakland tied the game in the fourth against Jose Rosario as Joyce led off with a home run and Chapman added a two-run shot.

Joyce's solo home run

A's up next: The A's will celebrate their spring home opener Sunday with a matchup against the division-rival Angels. Right-hander Kendall Graveman, who anchored an injury-riddled staff last year, will make his first Cactus League start in the 12:05 p.m. PT contest at Hohokam Stadium.

Cubs up next: It'll be Game 8 on Sunday when the Cubs and Indians meet for the first time since the World Series. First pitch at Sloan Park will be 2:05 p.m. CT. Jake Buchanan, one of the pitchers the Cubs may need as insurance during the regular season, will start.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.