OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Just as he always does, Greg Myers took
several trips to the batting cage Saturday while the Oakland
Athletics played Texas.
And all those swings had him feeling plenty prepared to pinch
hit in the eighth inning.The 36-year-old Myers hit a tiebreaking single and Oakland's
bullpen pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings as the A's defeated the
Rangers 6-3 to open a two-game lead in the AL West."Really, anytime you can help out like that it feels good,''
said Myers, a reserve catcher and 12th-year major leaguer. "With
this tight race going on, it's nice.''One day after the A's clinched a playoff berth, he helped them
move closer to winning the division for the second time in three
years. Second-place Anaheim lost 6-4 at Seattle.With the score 3-all in the eighth, Terrence Long led off with a
single off C.J. Nitkowski (0-1). Ramon Hernandez sacrificed, Mark
Ellis walked and Jay Powell relieved.Myers hit for Frank Menechino and singled to center on a 1-1
changeup, and Miguel Tejada followed with an RBI single.
Pinch-runner Jose Flores then stole third and scored when catcher
Todd Greene's throw went into left field.Manager Art Howe was happy to see Myers contribute in an
important game. Myers caught Wednesday, just his third start in 35
games. He has become known for his clutch pinch hitting."Greg is a veteran players and he's gotten some big hits for us
over the years, but none bigger than today,'' Howe said.Myers knows when you don't play much, you still have to be
ready."It's tough,'' he said. "You can ask anybody in this clubhouse
who doesn't play all the time. You try to stay loose late in a game
because you never know when you'll get your chance.''Jeff Tam (1-1) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, the first time the Rangers hadn't left runners on base since the second inning. Texas
had Alex Rodriguez on third in the seventh but couldn't score.Billy Koch struck out the side in the ninth for his 42nd save in
48 chances."I'm getting contributions from everybody out there,'' Howe
said.Ruben Rivera hit a two-run homer and Rodriguez singled twice for
Texas, which has lost five of six.Rangers starter Colby Lewis, recalled Sept. 7 from Triple-A
Oklahoma, was impressive early but couldn't keep a lead. He gave up
three runs, six hits and six walks in 5 1/3 innings. He threw balls
on 17 of his final 21 pitches."The first five innings everything was working real well,''
Lewis said. "Sometimes you just run up against a hump.''Cory Lidle allowed three runs, five hits and four walks in 6 1/3
innings. After an awesome August, when he went 5-0, he is 0-1 in
five starts since beating Kansas City on Aug. 26."Well, that's how it goes,'' he said. "No Ws, but we're
winning so that's good.''Jermaine Dye drove in Oakland's first run with a bloop RBI
single to right in the first that Kevin Mench got a glove on but
couldn't control.Rivera homered in a three-run fifth that included Rafael
Palmeiro's RBI double but Lewis, making his third major league
start, walked four in the sixth inning as the A's tied the game.Lewis threw nine straight balls at the start of the inning,
walking David Justice and Randy Velarde. Hernandez walked with one
out, Mark Ellis forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk, and Rich Rodriguez relieved. Pinch-hitter Adam Piatt tied it with an RBI
grounder."Colby pitched well. He was outstanding for five innings,''
Texas manager Jerry Narron said. "There in the sixth, he's got to
learn to take it to another level instead of backing off. We're
trying to get him to really kick it in with the game on the line.
That's part of the learning experience for him.''Oakland loaded the bases in the fourth after Lewis walked
Hernandez with two outs, but Ellis flied out.
2B Ray Durham was a late scratch from the lineup because of
stiffness in his neck and back. Ellis moved into the leadoff hole
and Durham was replaced in the field by veteran utility INF
Velarde. ... Myers' RBI was his seventh this year as a pinch
hitter, tying him for the league lead. ... Flores got his first
major league stolen base. ... Before his homer, Rivera was 2-for-27
in his last 14 games.