Texas Rangers: Oakland Athletics
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What’s up with the Rangers?: Well, the same old business lately: Losing. The Rangers lost three of four games to the Yankees in the Bronx to finish 2-5 in their seven-game road trip to start the second half. There is some good news, however. The starting pitching has gotten better, and outside of Yu Darvish's rain-shortened complete-game loss where he went 4 1/3 innings, Colby Lewis (6 1/3), Nick Martinez (5 1/3) and Miles Mikolas (7 1/3) have made it into the sixth inning. That's a trend manager Ron Washington would like to see continue so that the bullpen doesn't wear down.
Oakland is rolling: The A’s are 4-2 since the All-Star break and 23-11 in their last 34 games overall. Starting pitching has been off the charts, and the Rangers will face two of the Athletics' best in RHP Sonny Gray (11-3) on Saturday and LHP Scott Kazmir (11-3) on Sunday. The A’s have scored 87 runs in July, led by Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss.
Head-to-head: The A’s lead the season-series 5-4 and are 3-0 at Globe Life Park. Elvis Andrus is hitting .348 and Shin-Soo Choo is at a .357 against Kazmir. Andrus has just one hit in 11 career at-bats against Gray. Adrian Beltre has two hits in seven at-bats against Friday starter Jason Hammel.
Williams gets call: Jerome Williams is scheduled to start Friday for the Rangers. Williams, who was called up from Triple-A Round Rock, hasn’t started a big league game since 2012. He will become the 52nd player and 31st pitcher used by the Rangers this season, both marks being major league highs. Williams has never started against the A's but has posted a 1-0 record with a 5.14 ERA over seven innings in three career relief appearances against them.
Pitching matchups: RHP Williams (1-4, 6.04 with Houston) vs. Jason Hammel (0-2, 9.00 with Oakland and 8-5, 2.95 with Cubs) on Friday; RHP Nick Tepesch (0-1, 4.87) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (11-3, 2.73) on Saturday; Miles Mikolas (1-2, 7.48) vs. Scott Kazmir (11-3, 2.32) on Sunday.
The Rangers moved a half-game past the A's and into first place in the American League West for the first time since Sept. 5, 2013.
Perez's scoreless streak is the seventh longest in Rangers history. Left-hander Kenny Rogers owns the record of 39 innings, set in 1995 from May 6 to June 1. Perez became the seventh pitcher in Rangers history to pitch back-to-back shutouts. Charlie Hough had a team-record three straight shutouts in 1983 from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7. Since then, the only other Ranger to pitch back-to-back shutouts before Perez was lefty Derek Holland in 2011 from July 7 to 14.
Holland was the last pitcher in the American League to accomplish the feat. Phillies lefty Cole Hamels was the last pitcher in the majors with back-to-back shutouts. Hamels accomplished that in 2012 from Aug. 7 to 13.
Second baseman Donnie Murphy hit a solo home run, outfielder Alex Rios stroked an RBI triple, and outfielder Michael Choice went 1-for-4, drove in a run and scored once.
Streaking: Perez came into the game off his first career shutout and second career complete game, a 12-0 Rangers win Friday against the White Sox. He picked up where he left off, blanking the A's on three hits. He struck out three, walked two and needed just 108 pitches. Perez didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning when shortstop Jed Lowrie singled to center. The A's next hit came in the fifth when Derek Norris singled. Josh Donaldson doubled with one out in the seventh.
Dueling aces: Perez outdueled A's right-hander Sonny Gray in a battle of young, undefeated pitchers. Gray (3-1) allowed three runs on five hits over seven innings, striking out eight and walking four to suffer his first loss.
Quick-strike attack: For the third straight time in the three-game series, Texas took a lead in the top of the first inning. Choice, hitting leadoff for the second straight game and second time in his professional career, led off with a walk against Gray. With one out, Rios crushed a triple to left-center, bringing Choice home.
Adding on: The Rangers increased their lead to 2-0 in the fifth inning. Leonys Martin led off with an infield single, moved to second on Josh Wilson's sacrifice bunt and scored when Choice grounded a single to center. Then in the sixth, Murphy, a former Athletic, launched a solo home run over the right-field fence with two out, making it 3-0.
Flash the leather: Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus put on a defensive clinic Wednesday. In the second inning, he ranged far to his right to field Alberto Callaspo's ground ball. He made an off-balance, one-hop throw to first baseman Prince Fielder that beat Callaspo to the bag. Then in the sixth, Andrus ranged far to his left, fielding Daric Barton's hard ground ball behind second base and gunning him out.
After further review: For the second time in the three-game series, the Rangers were on the wrong end of a reversal. With one out and Rios on third after an RBI triple, Fielder hit a ground ball to shortstop Jed Lowrie, who threw home to catcher Derek Norris. A sliding Rios was ruled safe by plate umpire Larry Vanover, but A's manager Bob Melvin challenged the call and it was overturned after a video review that lasted 2:37. On Monday night in the seventh inning, Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo had an apparent infield single, but that call was reversed.
Up next: After a day off Thursday, the Rangers open a three-game series Friday at Seattle against the Mariners. Left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. (1-1, 2.31 ERA) will face Mariners lefty Roenis Elias (1-2, 3.22) on ESPN 103.3 FM and TXA21.
Essentially, the Rangers are trading the speed and defense of Gentry, who just turned 30 (admit it, you didn't think he was that old), for the power and upside that a raw Michael Choice possesses. The Oakland A's add a player who, frankly, could annoy the Rangers the next few years like so many A's do. Gentry has hit for a decent average, albeit in a platoon role, and once he gets on base, he makes things happen. He's scrappy and aggressive and a good clubhouse guy. It makes the A's better.
The play of Leonys Martin also makes Gentry expendable. He was not an everyday player in Texas, and the Rangers believe Martin has shown that he can be. Without feeling that way about Martin, perhaps the club is more hesitant to part with Gentry. Engel Beltre also factors into this deal. He is out of options and can now be on the roster as that guy who can go in for defensive purposes or give you some speed on the bases. And Beltre is 24.
This deal does not mean the Rangers will simply head off to Disney World next week and ride some rides rather than talk to teams and agents at the winter meetings. This doesn't have to take them out of the market for a proven outfield bat. But it also buys them some time. They have a hitter they can insert in left field and see how it goes, if they want to. They can also survey the market and not feel rushed about making a deal. If they want to go after a big name, they can. But as general manager Jon Daniels said, they don't have to.
Does Choice answer all of the Rangers' questions in the outfield? No. But they are closer to an answer now than they were 24 hours ago. Texas likes to give young players who it feels are ready for big league duty a chance to do that. Choice will have to earn his spot, but he'll be given every opportunity to do so. This isn't someone the club acquired to be a fourth outfielder in the years to come. If the Rangers get a Shin-Soo Choo, for instance, then Choice might spend this season platooning if he makes the club out of spring training. But he might get a chance to play every day in 2014. In other words: The trade gives Texas some options.
I see where both teams are coming from on this one. The A's get speed, defense and a player motivated to show he deserves more playing time. The Rangers get someone with power potential at the upper levels, something they have in the lower levels of the minors, but not close enough to push for a big league spot.
I'm not forgetting about Josh Lindblom or Chris Bostick. But this deal is more about what the two outfielders do for each club. It should be interesting to watch.
It's another indicator that Daniels doesn't mind dealing within the division. He was asked about that on a conference call Tuesday and said he's a little more hesitant as opposed to a trade that isn't in the AL West, but he won't let that stop him.
"I think you always try to understand what the other team is trying to accomplish, but biggest thing is getting what you feel fits with your club," Daniels said.
The Rangers feel that they did that. I'm sure the A's do, too. We'll see what happens and how it all plays out.
Sources told ESPN.com's Jim Bowden and Buster Olney that Kazmir has a two-year agreement with Oakland at $22 million. That was similar to the deal that San Francisco gave Tim Hudson. The A's were reported to be the runner-ups in that deal.
Kazmir rebounded in 2013 with a 10-9 mark and a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts. His velocity was back up from the previous few seasons and he reduced his walks. The move likely means the A's won't be pursuing a deal with Bartolo Colon.
For those curious, Kazmir is 6-4 with a 3.09 ERA in his career against the Rangers. He made one start last year against the Rangers and gave up four runs on eight hits in a loss in June in Arlington.
“He decided to leave me in, and I was able to get a few [hits] to fall in," Adduci said.
Martin Perez: The Rangers’ 22-year-old lefty held the A's to three runs in 6⅓ innings. He said the lack of run support does not interfere with his work on the mound.
“We don’t hit, but it’s coming," said Perez, now 9-5 with a 3.64 ERA. "I go out there and do my job."
Solo home runs by Josh Donaldson in the first and Chris Young in the third proved Perez’s downfall.
“It was a slider to Donaldson, and he went down and got it," Perez said.
Young’s drive into the A’s bullpen was measured at 412 feet.
Darvish (12-8, 2.84 ERA): Darvish has lost three consecutive starts for the first time in his career and is winless in his last five starts. His last win came Aug. 12 in Houston when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. ... The last time Darvish lost three consecutive games as a professional was in 2005 with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. ... He suffered his third 1-0 defeat Monday vs. Pittsburgh and has received two runs or less in run support in six consecutive starts. ... Darvish has 246 strikeouts this season. ... He is 1-5 with a 4.86 ERA in six career starts against Oakland and 0-3 with a 5.29 ERA against the A's this season.
Colon (15-6, 2.85 ERA): Colon has turned things around after a brutal August. ... He dominated Houston in his last start, allowing one run on five hits. ... Colon lost to the Rangers on Sept. 3, allowing a run in five innings as Martin Perez out-dueled him. The A's are 18-9 in Colon's starts. ... Colon is third in the American League in ERA and tied for fourth in wins. ... ... Colon has walked only 26 batters in 170 1/3 innings. His 1.37 walks per nine innings is second-lowest in the AL. ... He is 19-8 with a 3.61 ERA for his career against the Rangers. The 19 wins are his most against any team. ... Colon is 8-3 with a 4.32 ERA at Rangers Ballpark and is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA vs. the Rangers this season.
Hitters: Brandon Moss is 4-for-12 with three home runs and four RBIs against Darvish. Mitch Moreland, mired in an 0-for-18 slump, has two home runs this season off Colon.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' chances to rally and take the American League West away from the Oakland Athletics took a major hit Friday night as the A's held on for a 9-8 victory. It's the fourth straight loss for the Rangers, who are 2-9 in September.
Playoff race: The Rangers dropped to 4 1/2 games behind Oakland with 16 games to play. The Rangers are just one game up on Tampa Bay for the first wild-card spot in the AL and 2 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland for the second wild-card spot.
Holland collapses: Derek Holland had his third straight brutal start. He didn't have command of his fastball, and when he went to his off-speed pitches, the results weren't pretty. Holland put the first two runners on base in the top of the first, and after Jed Lowrie flew out to center field, Holland got up 0-2 on Yoenis Cespedes before the 2013 Home Run Derby champion cranked a fastball over the left-center field fence for a three-run home run. The A's kept the onslaught up as Josh Donaldson crushed a hanging curveball for a home run and 4-0 lead in the third inning. Holland allowed leadoff singles to Derek Norris and Kurt Suzuki to start the top of the fourth before being pulled from the game. Holland has allowed 21 runs in his last 19 1/3 innings.
First-inning runs: The Rangers did score a pair of runs in the first inning, but it was a run short of answering the A's three-run top of the inning. Kinsler and Andrus started the inning by drawing walks against Oakland starter Dan Straily and scored on an RBI single by Adrian Beltre and a sacrifice fly by A.J. Pierzynski. With the tying run at first base, Mitch Moreland lined out sharply to right field to end the inning.
Tepesch falters, too: The Rangers decided to use Tuesday's schedule starter Nick Tepesch for his second relief appearance of the season in the top of the fourth. That move backfired. Tepesch allowed a two-run double to Donaldson to give the A's a 6-2 lead. Tepesch walked Chris Young to start the fifth inning, then gave up singles to Young and Norris before another walk to Suzuki made it 7-2.
Rally begins: The Rangers did manage to load the bases down 9-2 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. A's manager Bob Melvin pulled Straily and brought in lefty Jerry Blevins. Ron Washington pinch hit Craig Gentry for David Murphy. Blevins threw a pitch behind Gentry, then bounced back with a full count to get the Rangers' outfielder to ground out to third base.
Nearly came back: The Rangers took advantage of four walks to score six runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded, Leonys Martin had an RBI single and Ian Kinsler walked to plate a run to cut Oakland's lead to 9-4. Elvis Andrus had a two-run single to right field to make it 9-6. Alex Rios had a single up the middle to score two more runs for a 9-8 game. Sean Doolittle then relieved the reeling Ryan Cook and allowed a Beltre single to left field. Rios tried to go from first to third and was called out by umpire Andy Fletcher. Replays showed that Rios was safe on what should have been an easy call for Fletcher. Rios argued and was ejected.
Then the 9th: Pierzynski and Jeff Baker struck out to start the inning. Then pinch hitter Robinson Chirinos had an unlikely two-strike double. That left it up to Jurickson Profar, who for the second straight at-bat took a called strike three, this one to end the game.
Bottom of the order: Nothing is more telling about the difference between the Rangers and A's than what happened Friday night with the bottom three hitters in each lineup. The combination of Young, Norris and Suzuki were 6-for-14 with three runs scored and an RBI. The Rangers' bottom three -- Jim Adduci, Murphy and Martin -- were 2-for-9 with two walks.
Up next: The Rangers will try to even the three-game series and end a four-game losing streak when ace Yu Darvish (12-8, 2.84) faces Oakland right-hander Bartolo Colon (15-6, 2.85) at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday afternoon on FOX and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.
Friday: LHP Derek Holland (9-8, 3.17) vs. RHP Dan Straily (9-7, 4.15), 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: RHP Yu Darvish (12-8, 2.84) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (15-6, 2.85), 12:05 p.m.
Sunday: LHP Martin Perez (9-4, 3.60) vs. RHP Jarrod Parker (11-6, 3.55), 2:05 p.m.
Here's what to watch for in this weekend's final regular-season series between the Rangers and the A's:
|Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett and attempts to solve the Rangers' problems.
Head-to-head: The Rangers had been the better team in head-to-head action, winning three of the first four series between the clubs before Oakland took two out of three from Texas last week at O.com Coliseum. The Rangers are 9-7 against the A's and will win the season series with a win. That's of little solace with the Rangers being stuck in second place after giving away the division Oakland last year. The Rangers probably have to win the series to have a chance to win the AL West.
Battle of the bullpens: The Rangers will win the series if they can take leads into the late innings. They never led in 27 innings against the Pirates and couldn't rally late. Oakland's trio of left-hander Sean Doolittle, right-hander Ryan Cook and closer Grant Balfour have been used down the stretch. They did get a break with two blowout wins at Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. The Rangers' triumvirate of lefty Neal Cotts, righty Tanner Scheppers and closer Joe Nathan have dominated the A's, going 3-0 with four saves and a 0.81 ERA for 22 1/3 innings. The Rangers have the best and deepest bullpen in baseball. They need some early runs and good starting pitching so they can take advantage of it.
Can the Rangers beat Parker?: A's ace Jarrod Parker has a nine-game winning streak and was in position to win 10 in a row before the A's blew a late lead to Minnesota on Tuesday. Parker hasn't lost since May 22 to Texas. Parker has destroyed the Rangers otherwise. He is 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA in eight career starts against them. Twice this season he's gone head-to-head against Yu Darvish and beaten him. Parker also beat Matt Garza on Aug. 3 in Oakland. Maybe the Rangers should start long reliever Ross Wolf against Parker. He handed Parker his last loss as the Rangers took a 5 1/2 game lead on the A's.
Needing more from Moreland: The Rangers will face three right-handers against the A's. That means three important starts for first baseman Mitch Moreland. The Rangers didn't homer in the series against Pittsburgh and have gone 35 innings without a long ball since Alex Rios hit a first-inning shot Sunday in Anaheim. Moreland is batting .130 for September, but he does have two homers for the month, including one Tuesday off Saturday starter Bartolo Colon. He has five homers against Oakland this season, all at O.com Coliseum, and two of them against Colon. The Rangers are in dire need of some power and Moreland could be the guy to provide it.
"I think mechanically and mentally I was a little bit off today," Darvish said. "I think the slider command was good, but the fastball command was totally off. From there it down-spiraled."
And it didn't stop until the A's hit four home runs -- two against Darvish -- and routed the Rangers, 11-4, to win the series, two games to one, and pull even in the American League West race.
Darvish gave up five runs, matching his season high, and five hits. He walked a season-high six batters and struck out only four, equaling his season low. He lasted just five innings, matching his shortest outing of the season. He gave up a two-run shot to Moss in the first, and a two-run homer in the sixth to A's first baseman Daric Barton, who now has just three home runs over his past 130 games since 2010.
"He didn't have his command, and that can happen," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You take the ball enough, that will happen. But nothing that we need to push a panic button on. He didn't have a good day. He was human. Yu is just like everybody else that goes out there and pitches. He can have a day where it don't work, and today was that day."
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers suffered an ugly 11-4 loss Wednesday afternoon to the Oakland Athletics, allowing four home runs and falling into a first-place tie with the A's in the American League West. With 23 games left to play, the Rangers and A's are deadlocked at 80-59. Oakland won the series, taking two of the three games.
Rough start, short outing: Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish was hurt by late-game home runs in his previous two starts. This time, A's right fielder Brandon Moss crushed a two-run shot into the right-field seats in the first inning, giving Oakland a 2-0 lead. Darvish retired the first two batters he faced but walked Jed Lowrie, setting the stage for Moss, the reigning American League Player of the Week. Then with no outs and a runner on first in the sixth, A's first baseman Daric Barton ripped a pitch over the right-center fence for a two-run homer, ending Darvish's day.
Out of control: Darvish (12-7) walked two batters in the first and two in the second when the A's increased their lead to 3-0. It took him two innings to match his season high for walks in a start. He set a new season high with walk No. 5 in the fifth, then walked another batter in the sixth. With so many walks, Darvish's pitch count soared. He had 95 pitches after Alberto Callaspo walked to lead off the sixth. Barton sent Darvish's 100th pitch over the fence for his second home run of the season and third in the past three seasons, spanning 130 games. Of Darvish's 100 pitches, only 52 were for strikes.
No relief: Left-hander Robbie Ross took over for Darvish and experienced an even worse pitching nightmare. Ross allowed hits to all four batters he faced and gave up four runs. Eric Sogard singled, Stephen Vogt doubled, Coco Crisp singled and Josh Donaldson hit a monstrous three-run homer to left, giving the A's a 9-2 lead. Rangers right-hander Cory Burns gave up a two-run homer in the eighth to Crisp.
Quick response: After falling behind 3-0 through two innings, the Rangers answered with two runs in the third. With one out, rookie Jim Adduci lined an opposite-field single off right-hander Jarrod Parker. Leonys Martin lined a double into the right-field corner, and Adduci scored all the way from first. Craig Gentry, making his second straight start, brought Martin home with a soft single to right.
Parker wins again: A's right-hander Jarrod Parker (11-6) wasn't at his best, but he won his ninth straight game and improved to 6-1 for his career against Texas. He beat the Rangers for the third straight time this year after losing his first matchup. Parker allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out four and walked none. He has an 18-game unbeaten streak, the longest in Oakland history.
Hits keep coming: Adduci, who singled in his first major league at-bat Sunday against Minnesota, singled in his first at-bat Wednesday in his second major league start. Adduci started in left field against the Twins but was the DH against Oakland, a job he never had this season in the minor leagues. Adduci, 28, spent 10 seasons and 889 games in the minor leagues before playing his first major league game.
Rookie mistake: Shortstop Jurickson Profar, a 20-year-old rookie, had a teachable moment in the top of the third inning. Leading off, he hit a ground ball to first baseman Daric Barton and started jogging to first. The ball bounced out of Barton's glove and rolled away, but he tracked it down and tossed to Parker covering, beating Profar by several yards. After singling in the fifth, Profar sprinted safely to second on Adduci's ground ball that shortstop Jed Lowrie booted for an error.
Long ball: Catcher Geovany Soto hit his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot in the ninth inning.
Up next: The Rangers have Thursday off and begin a three-game series Friday night at Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels. Texas right-hander Matt Garza will start the opener, facing Angels lefty C.J. Wilson, a former Ranger. Rangers lefty Derek Holland will start Saturday night's game, while the Angels will counter with righty Garrett Richards. The Rangers have yet to name a starter for Sunday's finale against Angels left-hander Jason Vargas.
Darvish (12-6, 2.73): Over his past three starts, Darvish is 0-1 with a 3.43 ERA, 29 strikeouts and nine walks, while allowing three home runs. ... In his most recent start, Darvish allowed only three hits over 6T innings against the Minnesota Twins, but two of those hits were home runs in a 3-2 Rangers loss. He struck out 11 and walked two. ... Darvish is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against the A's this season and 1-4 with a 4.22 ERA in five career starts versus Oakland. ... In his June 18 start against Oakland, he allowed five runs (four earned) and six hits, including two home runs, in a 7-3 loss. ... He leads the American League in strikeouts with 236.
Parker (10-6, 3.59): Over his past 17 starts, Parker is 8-0 with a 2.57 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 32 walks. His eight-game winning streak is the longest of his career. ... Parker's 17-start unbeaten streak is tied for the longest in Oakland history, matching Catfish Hunter's streak. ... Parker's last loss came on May 22 at Texas, when he gave up three runs and six hits over seven innings in a 3-1 Rangers victory. Since then, he has won two straight starts against the Rangers. ... Parker is 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA, 35 strikeouts and 13 walks in six career starts against Texas. He's allowed five home runs. ... This season, Parker is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts versus the Rangers. He has 15 strikeouts, five walks and three home runs allowed.
Hitters: A's infielder Alberto Callaspo, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, is batting .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles and three RBIs against Darvish. ... Outfielder Seth Smith owns a .385 career average versus Darvish, going 5-for-13 with three doubles. ... Outfielders Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes are both hitting .333 versus Darvish. Crisp has a home run and a triple, while Cespedes has a home run and a double. ... Adrian Beltre (4-for-18), David Murphy (3-for17) and Ian Kinsler (2-for-12) are a combined 9-for-47 against Parker, but each one has hit one home run. ... Alex Rios is 3-for-6 with a double versus Parker.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers bounced back Tuesday night to beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1 in the second game of a three-game series and regain sole possession of first place in the American League West. With 24 games left to play, the Rangers (80-58) lead the A's (79-59) by one game.
Still streaking: Rangers rookie left-hander Martin Perez won his sixth straight start and improved to 9-3 for the season. He's the first Rangers rookie to win six straight starts and the first Texas pitcher to do so since Kenny Rogers won eight straight starts in 2005. His six-game winning streak is the longest by a Rangers pitcher this season. Perez allowed just one run on eight hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked none. He threw 90 pitches, 60 for strikes. After spotting Oakland a 1-0 lead in the first, he pitched six straight shutout innings in his first start this season against the A's. Last year, he went 1-2 with a 9.90 ERA against Oakland.
Power surge: Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland hit his 22nd home run of the season -- an ongoing career high -- in the fourth inning, a solo shot off A's right-hander Bartolo Colon that tied the game 1-1. The home run was Moreland's second in his past three games and fifth in his past 11. In the eighth, Alex Rios crushed a solo shot off reliever Jesse Chavez, giving the Rangers a 5-1 lead. The homer was Rios' 14th of the season and second since coming to Texas from the Chicago White Sox in a trade. The Rangers had 13 hits, including two apiece by Moreland, Rios, Ian Kinsler, Jurickson Profar and Craig Gentry. Profar and Moreland doubled.
Rally time: After scoring a total of two runs in each of their past four games, the Rangers rallied for three runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. The rally started when Gentry hit a hard one-hopper that went in and out of Colon's glove for an error. Profar lined an RBI double off the right-field wall, then moved to third when Ian Kinsler singled sharply off of Colon's glove. Adrian Beltre grounded out to third, bringing Profar home, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski blooped an RBI single to center.
Bullpen watch: Right-hander Tanner Scheppers pitched a scoreless eighth, despite giving up a leadoff double to Josh Donaldson. He has pitched four scoreless innings in his past four games after allowing three runs on six hits in 1⅓ innings in his previous two appearances. Closer Joe Nathan allowed a pair of singles but pitched a scoreless ninth.
Timely move: Gentry made his 52st start of the season and 47th in center field, in place of Leonys Martin. Gentry entered the game with two hits in three career at-bats against Colon. And he singled in his first two at-bats Tuesday, then reached on Colon's error and scored in the fifth.
Defensive gem: Profar, starting again for injured shortstop Elvis Andrus, saved the Rangers a run in the bottom of the third. With two outs and Donaldson on second after a double, Yoenis Cespedes hit a ground ball to the hole and Profar made a diving stop. When Donaldson ran through third base coach Mike Gallego's stop sign, Profar gunned him out at home. Donaldson collided hard with Pierzynski, but the milestone-reaching catcher held onto the ball. He then tagged Donaldson hard again for good measure. Pierzynski has now been behind the plate 100 games a record-tying 13 seasons in a row.
Missed early opportunity: Gentry led off the game with a sharp single off Colon to left and moved to third when Kinsler lined a one-out single to center, snapping an 0-for-12 skid. After Beltre struck out, Pierzynski lined a shot to left center, but A's center fielder Chris Young made a nice running catch, reaching high to rob Pierzynski of extra bases and the Rangers of two runs.
No history lesson: Colon (14-6) entered the game with a 19-7 career mark against Texas and a chance to make history. He was tied with Bert Blyleven, Dennis Leonard and Jack Morris for most wins against the Rangers. Colon is still tied, lasting just five innings. He allowed eight hits and four runs -- just one earned -- while striking out three and walking none.
Up next: Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish (12-6, 2.73 ERA) will face A's righty Jarrod Parker (10-6, 3.59) in the finale of this three-game series Wednesday afternoon at the O.co Coliseum. First pitch is at 2:37 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540 AM.
Perez (8-3, 3.58 ERA): Perez will take a five-game winning streak into his start Tuesday. In his past five starts, he's 5-0 with a 3.06 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 11 walks over 35⅓ innings. His last lost came on July 21 against the Baltimore Orioles. In his last start, Perez allowed two runs and five hits over six innings in a 12-4 win at Seattle. This will be his first start against the A's this season, but he went 1-2 with a 9.90 ERA in three starts last season against Oakland. Perez lasted just 2/3 of an inning against the A's in a Sept. 26 start, allowing five runs and six hits in a 9-3 loss.
Colon (14-5, 2.94): Colon came off the 15-day disabled list (strained groin) and took a no-decision Thursday at Detroit, allowing just one run on seven hits over five innings in a 7-6 A's loss. He'll take a two-game losing streak into Tuesday's start, which matches his longest skid of the season. Colon's last win came on July 26 against the Los Angeles Angels. Colon's time on the DL appeared to revive his arm and increase his velocity, which had dipped from the low 90s to the mid 80s. Over his past three starts, Colon is 0-2 with a 8.49 ERA and has thrown five or fewer innings each time. Colon is 19-7 with a 2.65 ERA in 31 career starts against Texas. The 19 wins are tied for the most by any pitcher against the Rangers.
Hitters: A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes is 2-for-6 with one double, one triple and one RBI against Perez. A's center fielder Coco Crisp is 2-for-6 with a double and one RBI versus Perez. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is hitting .302 (19-for-63) with five home runs and 14 RBIs against Colon, while outfielder Alex Rios is batting .346 (9-for-26) with one double, one triple and four RBIs. Outfielder David Murphy has had success against Colon, too, hitting .357 (5-for-14) with a home run, and first baseman Mitch Moreland is 3-for-10 with a double, a home run and two RBIs.
Holland (9-6, 3.00): Holland has been terrific on the road with a 7-1 record and a 2.85 ERA for 14 starts ... He is unbeaten in his last 11 road starts ... Holland took a no-decision in his last road start on Tuesday, giving up three runs in six innings ... He allowed eight of the first 18 batters to reach base ... Holland was 1-0 with a 2.18 ERA for August ... He has allowed more than four runs in just one of his 27 starts ... Holland is 5-2 with a 2.64 ERA for his career against the A's ... He is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA for two starts this season against Oakland, both at O.co Coliseum.
Straily (7-7, 4.41): Straily makes his ninth start since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on July 20 ... He is 1-5 with a 4.68 ERA and has allowed a .304 opponents batting average ... Straily also has taken a page from teammate A.J. Griffin, allowing eight home runs in eight starts ... Straily is tied for the major league lead in losses since the All-Star break ... He leads AL rookies with 22 starts, 98 strikeouts and 122 1/3 innings ... Straily snapped a five-game losing streak in his last start, allowing a run in six innings in a 14-4 victory at Detroit ... He is 1-1 with a 4.37 ERA in four career starts in Texas ... He is 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA for his three starts versus the Rangers this season.
Hitters: Ian Kinsler is 3-for-7 with an RBI against Straily. Josh Donaldson (5-for-11, 1 HR, 2 RBIs) and Alberto Callaspo (12-for-38, 1 HR, 4 RBIs) have had success against Holland.
Elvis Andrus was mobbed by teammates Wednesday after his walk-off sacrifice fly. And well he should have: It gave the Rangers a three-game sweep of the Astros.
"It was tense," he said.
He used those three words to describe the moments leading up to shortstop Elvis Andrus delivering a sacrifice fly to left field to score Adam Rosales with one out in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Rangers a three-game sweep of Houston and a 2½-game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.
After Andrus' heroics, it was pandemonium, with a few Rangers players pulling their shortstop by the jersey through the infield as they celebrated another clutch victory in August. The Rangers have won 18 of their past 22 games.
Washington had the tense part correct. And in stressful times, it's good to have guys who have been in pressure situations before.
It took the relief work of former closers Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor to get out of bases-loaded jams in the seventh and eighth innings, and the cool calm of Andrus, who at 24 has played in two World Series for the Rangers.
Let's start with Andrus. He gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh when he executed a suicide squeeze bunt to score Craig Gentry. At the time, that insurance run looked like it would be enough to beat the 41-win Astros.
Andrus' ninth-inning heroics combined with the Athletics' loss mean Texas now holds a 2½-game advantage in the AL West standings.
The Rangers responded in the bottom of the ninth by loading the bases, forcing Astros reliever Chia-Jen Lo to throw strikes. He couldn't. Mitch Moreland led off the inning with a single, and Jurickson Profar and Leonys Martin walked to fill the bases.
Andrus, who had missed a bunt earlier in the bottom of the fifth, had gained confidence for his ninth-inning at-bat by nearly hitting a home run that inning, flying out to the left-field fence. That helped him for his at-bat against Lo.
Of course, Washington could have gone with another squeeze, but with the advantage of having that planted in the Astros' minds, and a first-pitch ball, he let Andrus swing away with the Astros employing five infielders.
Andrus lofted a fly ball into not-too-deep left field, and pinch runner Rosales used his speed to easily beat a high throw home from Astros left fielder Robbie Grossman.
"I was trying to hit a fly ball," Andrus said. "It was a little easier today. I had two fly balls already. I was trying to stay below the ball and just put a good swing on it, especially with the way that we're playing in. I don't need to do much in that situation."
Andrus wouldn't have gotten his walk-off chance without Soria and Frasor.
Rangers starter Derek Holland looked like he was coasting to his third win at home this season with a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh. But a line drive from Jason Castro's bat that glanced off his left forearm seemed to rattle him.
He walked the next two batters he faced, loading the bases.
"It scared the crap out of me," Holland said of getting hit. "I had to calm myself down, I took deep breaths, but I couldn't do it and it cost me the win."
Soria came on with the bags full and got a double play. Even though the Astros scored to make it 3-2, the two outs were huge. After a walk, Soria got another ground ball to hold the lead.
The Rangers led 4-2 with two outs in the top of the eighth when Scheppers, fresh off a double-play ball, allowed two bloop hits, a walk and two wild pitches as the Astros cut the lead to 4-3.
And that was before he lost command of the strike zone. Scheppers hit the next two Astros, including striking rookie catcher Max Stassi in the face, to force in the tying run.
"It's one of those pitches that got away," Scheppers said of the 96 mph fastball that glanced off Stassi's shoulder before hitting his face.
Fortunately, the inning and the game didn't get away from the Rangers. Veteran right-hander Frasor came in with the bases still loaded and struck out Brett Wallace to keep the score at 4-all.
That set up Andrus' heroics. And the Rangers survived yet again.