ARLINGTON, Texas -- Elvis Andrus says he's like a kid in a candy store when he's waiting on a relay throw, knowing there's a potential play at the plate.
He won the golden ticket on Thursday afternoon, turning a throw from center fielder Craig Gentry into the final out of Thursday's 4-3 win over Oakland.
Andrus' perfect strike to home plate and subsequent swipe tag by catcher A.J. Pierzynski nailed Oakland's Josh Donaldson for the 27th out, giving the Rangers a heart-stopping 4-3 victory and a series win over the A's.
The Rangers won three out of four games -- they trailed in all of them -- and pulled within a game of the American West division leaders.
Obviously, if Donaldson is safe there, the game goes on. Donaldson ran through a stop sign from third base coach Mike Gallego and still made the play fairly close. Pierzynski had home plate blocked though, forcing Donaldson to cut his slide short, and a Andrus' laser throw cut him down.
"I love making that play," Andrus said. "I couldn't wait to get the throw in from Gentry and make the throw home to A.J. I couldn't wait."
Closer Joe Nathan fanned Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss to start the top of the ninth, but a single to left by Donaldson kept the game going. Seth Smith worked the count full and hit a sharp single into center field, which at first looked like it would hang up for Gentry to make the final out a conventional one.
Only the liner sunk on Gentry and bounced at his feet, then kicked off his chest to his right. He kept his cool and tracked down the ball and fired it back into the cutoff man, Andrus.
"That's just instinct," Gentry said. "Off the bat I thought I was going to catch it, then I was able to block it. Then I threw it in to Andrus."
What was Gentry thinking after that?
"Please get him out," Gentry said.
Andrus is one of the best in baseball at relay throws, and he hit his target, Pierzynski, once more. Andrus, who is trying to get out of a prolonged slump at the plate, had slammed his bat down in frustration in the bottom of the seventh after lining out sharply to second with two runners in scoring position. Ian Kinsler had just put the Rangers ahead with a two-out single to center to score two runs and make the score 4-3.
But Andrus didn't take his frustration into the field. Andrus, who had made a throwing error earlier in the game that gave Oakland a 3-2 lead, helped make one of the defensive plays of the season for the Rangers.
"He's very good at it," Kinsler said of Andrus' talent at making relay throws. "He always makes a strong throw and he's accurate. To end the game like that makes it more difficult. He put it right on the money."