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MLB Oakland Athletics

Derek Norris Blasts Oakland Athletics into First Place With Much-Needed Home Run

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s thrilling 8-7 victory by the Oakland Athletics over the Chicago Cubs put them back on top in the AL West, a half-game ahead of the Texas Rangers.

The win was only possible thanks to an eighth-inning rally that found the A’s score three runs against the Cubs’ bullpen en route to the come-from-behind victory. Catcher Derek Norris, mired in a long slump that has seen his batting average dip below .200, lofted a two out, three-run home run to left-center field against James Russell to turn the tide of the game around in the A’s favor.

The situation was an intriguing one: Cubs manager Dale Sveum opted to leave the lefty Russell in to face Norris rather than bring in a right-handed reliever (as Bob Melvin would likely have countered that move with either Seth Smith, John Jaso or Brandon Moss off the bench).

Instead, Norris burned the Cubs’ decision, changing the game’s outcome.

The game seemed in control from the get-go: the A’s put themselves up 3-0 early, only to have A.J. Griffin pitch one of his worst games of his career, ultimately allowing seven earned runs. The rally in the eighth, highlighted by Norris’ home run as much as a key walk from Josh Reddick (against Russell prior to Norris’ at-bat), exemplifies just how hot the A’s are right now.

With the win, Oakland moved to 49-35 on the season, with one of the best records in the game. Tonight’s game will pit Bartolo Colon against Matt Garza (the subject of many recent trade rumors).

Adrian Garro is an Oakland Athletics writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter and/or add him to your network on Google.