(Sports Network) – Oakland’s Dallas Braden returns to the hill for the first time since a flare-up in his flexor tendon when the Athletics wrap up a three- game set with the Chicago Cubs today at Wrigley Field.
Braden, who of course, threw one of the two perfect games in baseball this season, hasn’t pitched since giving up five runs (four earned) and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings of a loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 9 that dropped him to 4-6 on the season.
In fact, Braden hasn’t won since his perfecto over the Tampa Bay Rays on May 9, having gone 0-4 in a six-start span, and has surrendered four runs or more in four of those outings to raise his earned run average to 3.95.
This will be his first-ever appearance against the Cubs.
Oakland will be trying to bounce back from a loss on Tuesday, when Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro each knocked in two runs to help Chicago take a 6-2 win.
Derrek Lee and Xavier Nady both registered two hits and one RBI for the Cubs, who won for just the fifth time in their last 15 games. Ryan Dempster (5-5) gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.
“These guys really played well [Tuesday],” said Cubs manger Lou Piniella.
Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez (6-5) yielded six runs on eight hits and three walks in five innings. The Athletics have lost four of their last five games.
“They got some hits that could have gone either way; an inch more it could’ve been an out,” Gonzalez said.
Getting the ball for the Cubs today will be righty Randy Wells, who has lost his last five decisions and is 3-5 with a 5.15 ERA on the year. Wells was rocked in his latest setback Friday versus the White Sox, who hit him for five runs and 10 hits in five innings.
“I’ve declared tomorrow as the start of a new season for me,” Wells said Wednesday. “Right now, I’m 0-0 in my mind. I’m excited.”
He has never faced the A’s.
Chicago won two of three meetings with Oakland from June 18-20 of the 2004 campaign and is 94-101 against the American League. The Athletics own a solid 132-106 ledger in games played against the Senior Circuit.