Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Athletics 7
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Nelson Cruz delivered two monster home runs and the bullpen saved the day as the Texas Rangers snapped a six-game losing streak with an 8-7 victory over the division-leading Oakland Athletics, pulling within two games of the A's for the top spot in the American League West.
Boomstick times two: Cruz had a major impact on the Rangers' first win in a week. His solo home run to center field in the fourth inning gave the Rangers some momentum back, cutting the A's lead to 6-4 after Oakland had erased a 3-0 Texas lead with a six spot in the top of the fourth. Cruz brought the Rangers all the way back in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out, two-run home run to center field for a 7-6 lead. The go-ahead homer came on an 0-2 changeup. Cruz has 18 home runs for the season, tying him for second place in the American League. Cruz also had a RBI double in the bottom of the seventh to give the Rangers a huge insurance run and an 8-6 lead.
AJP makes big impact: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski delivered his first three RBI game of the season. Pierzynski gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning with a two-run home run off the right-field foul pole, his sixth of the season. It was the Rangers' first lead since Thursday in the second inning against Toronto. Pierzynski also had a clutch two-out RBI double off the right-field wall to score Ian Kinsler to cut Oakland's lead to 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth. Cruz followed with his go-ahead homer.
Cotts does it again: What can you say about Neal Cotts? He was the first pitcher who didn't get hit hard Monday night, giving the Rangers' 2 1/3 scoreless innings after starter Nick Tepesch was knocked out by the A's in the fourth inning. Against an A's lineup laden with left-handed hitters, the southpaw Cotts retired all seven batters he faced. Cotts retired four left-handed hitters.
Ross and Scheppers, too: Setup men Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers retired all six batters they faced in the seventh and eighth innings to get closer Joe Nathan an 8-6 lead in the ninth inning.
Tepesch gets rocked: Rookie Nick Tepesch continued his trend of looking good early and then having that one bad inning. It happened in the top of the fourth. Staked to a 3-0 lead, Tepesch allowed six runs on five hits. He did appear to get hurt by a bad call by third base umpire Jordan Baker. After John Jaso doubled, Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder that deflected off Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre's glove to shortstop Elvis Andrus. With Cespedes running, Andrus tried to get the lead runner and Beltre appeared to tag out the A's base runner twice, for sure the second time as TV replays showed. Tepesch didn't respond. Giving up three hits and a walk as the A's teed off on him and stormed to a 6-3 lead.
Up next: The Rangers go for two wins in a row over the A's when right-hander Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.64 ERA) goes up against right-hander Jarrod Parker (5-6, 4.45 ERA) on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. The rest of the series includes right-hander Justin Grimm (5-5, 5.59 ERA) against left-hander Tommy Milone (6-6, 3.61 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday; and right-hander Josh Lindblom (0-2, 5.94 ERA) takes on right-hander A.J. Griffin (5-6, 3.93 ERA) at 1:05 p.m. Thursday. All games are on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.