ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Eric Young picked the perfect time to
hit his first home run for the Texas Rangers, who are making the
most of their last chance against Oakland.
Young's three-run shot was a tiebreaker, pushing Texas to a 5-3
win over the Athletics on Wednesday night and three games back of
the AL West leaders."E-Y's timing couldn't have been better," manager Buck
Showalter said. "He told us he'd been saving one."Young connected with two outs in the fourth off Barry Zito
(11-11) for a 5-2 lead.That was in his 305th at-bat -- the most this season by any
player in the majors without a homer. It was his 95th game, his
fifth straight start at second base in place of injured Alfonso
Soriano."He said he's going to get one. The importance of that one was
huge," catcher Rod Barajas said."I've definitely been saving one for a lot of my teammates.
They've been ragging me all year," Young said. "It was just good
to come at a good time for the team."Kenny Rogers matched a career high with his 17th win for the
Rangers, who will try to complete a three-game sweep Thursday in
their last meeting against the Athletics."Two out of three is nice, but now that we've got the chance,
we really need to win to make the first two days worth it," Rogers
said.The Rangers have 10 games left after that, six against Seattle
and four at home against Anaheim, which remained 2½ games back of
Oakland."We've been leading, but the Rangers haven't died off," center
fielder Mark Kotsay said. "They still have an opportunity. We knew
we'd be beating each other up in the division and it's come true."Texas has won nine of its last 12 games, with four wins against
the Athletics in that span. The teams split four games in Oakland
last week.Rogers (17-8) was pulled after giving up a walk and single to
start the sixth, but allowed just three runs and matched the 17
wins he had for Texas in 1995.The 39-year-old left-hander returned this season for his third
Rangers stint. Rogers has spent 11 of his 16 major league seasons
with the team that drafted him in the 39th round in 1982.Francisco Cordero put runners on first and second with one out
in the ninth before extending his team record with his 47th save in
51 chances. A quartet of relievers combined for three scoreless
innings before that.Zito lost for the first time in 11 career starts in Texas, and
to the Rangers for only the second time -- both this season. He is
still 13-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 21 career starts against the Rangers.The left-hander gave up five runs on seven hits and four walks
while throwing 117 pitches in five innings.In the same inning that Young homered, Zito got three of his six
strikeouts. The called third strike against Michael Young that
ended the fourth was his 100th pitch.Eric Young hit a first-pitch changeup, sending it over the
14-foot wall in left field."That's a fluke. It's not going to happen again," Zito said.
"It was down below his knees. He was either sitting on it or it
hit his bat."Oakland had tied the game 2-all in the third when No. 9 hitter
Marco Scutaro had an RBI triple and Kotsay followed with a double.
Bobby Crosby's sacrifice fly in the sixth, the first batter after
Rogers left, made it 5-3.Kotsay was 3-for-5, his sixth multihit game in a nine-game
hitting streak.Eric Young walked to start the first, then scored on Hank
Blalock's double for a 1-0 lead. Rod Barajas had a double in the
second to drive home Chad Allen, who also walked.The Rangers started the series Tuesday with a three-run first
and went on to win 9-4, beating Mark Mulder for the third time this
season. Tim Hudson (12-5) pitches Thursday for Oakland against Chan
Ho Park (3-6).Mark Teixeira went 3-for-4 for Texas, all singles. After his
leadoff hit in the fifth, he was thrown out trying to score on
Brian Jordan's double.
Eric Young's last homer was Aug. 14, 2003, for Milwaukee
against Philadelphia -- a span of 382 at-bats over 123 games. ...
Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young winner, has allowed career highs in hits
(205), runs (109) and home runs (26). ... Rangers relievers Frank
Francisco, Doug Brocail and Carlos Almanzar dropped their appeals
of suspensions that stemmed from the altercation with fans in
Oakland last week. Each suspension was reduced by a game.