Rapid Reaction: A's 7, Rangers 2

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It wasn’t just the home run to Josh Willingham that ruined C.J. Wilson’s night.

As it turned out, one run wouldn’t have beaten Wilson.

But the Rangers’ left-hander issued two walks preceding Willingham’s 402-foot blast into the left-field stands.

And a 3-0 deficit against Trevor Cahill, the way the A’s right-hander is throwing these days, is pretty close to Game Over.

Cahill was great again (seven innings, five hits, one run), the Rangers bullpen faltered late and Oakland took the series opener, 7-2, Monday night before 24,375 at Rangers Ballpark.

The slumping Rangers (18-18), losers of seven of their last nine, find themselves back where they started the season, with a .500 record. That’s good for only third place behind the AL West-leading Angels because Oakland, with its win, passed Texas in the standings.

Wilson encountered little trouble in the first two innings and quickly recorded a pair of outs in the third. Then the walks, first to left-handed hitting Daric Barton and then to Conor Jackson.

Willingham was able to play only because he appealed a major league baseball suspension for contact with an umpire Saturday in Kansas City. He finished with two of the A’s four hits and five RBIs.

In seven innings plus two batters in the eighth, Wilson allowed only two hits, but was charged with five runs, all earned, thanks to five walks. Ron Washington went to the bullpen when Wilson hit Coco Crisp and walked Daric Barton in the eighth. Both scored on a single by Willingham off reliever Ryan Tucker.

Texas outhit Oakland, 9-4.

* Bullpen problems carried over from Sunday. Tucker faced four batters in the eighth and wasn’t able to get an out. He walked two, allowed a two-run single to Willingham and an RBI double to Kurt Suzuki. He inherited two runners and both scored.

* Defensive play of the night: David Murphy for his catch while banging into the left-field wall in the eighth inning. Murphy went a long way to chase down a drive off the bat of Mark Ellis.

* Defensive play No. 2: A close second was a double play in the eighth started by a flashy glove flip by shortstop Elvis Andrus. The Rangers turned three double plays.

* Mitch Moreland, starting in right field for the 14th time, is looking very comfortable. Moreland made a nice play in the first inning racing to his left to hold Barton to a single.

He also looked pretty comfortable at the plate when he led off the fifth inning with a 368-foot home run to right field for the Rangers’ first run off Cahill, cutting the A’s lead to 3-1.

* Manager Ron Washington alluded to Andrus’ growth as a base stealer in his meeting with the press on Monday. Last year, Andrus stole 17, but was thrown out 15 times. Andrus’ swipe of second base in the first inning was his 11th of the season and he still has not been caught. You can hear Andrus talk about it here.

* Julio Borbon extended his hitting streak to nine games with a third-inning bunt single. Cahill’s sidearm throw evaded first baseman Barton.