Rangers' Mench homers for sixth game in a row

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Kevin Mench set a Texas Rangers record
by homering in his sixth straight game. His grand slam didn't
matter because Francisco Cordero set a more dubious mark.

Cordero blew his third straight save chance -- the second in less
than 24 hours, and fifth already this season -- when Dan Johnson led
off the ninth inning for Oakland with a home run. Jay Payton then
had a two-run single in the 10th to give the Athletics a 6-4
victory Wednesday.

"We know he's going through some struggles right now. That's
just the way this game is," Mench said of Cordero. "We know he's
going to bounce back."

The fifth blown save set a major league record for April, and
the team record for any month of a season. That matches the number
of blown chances Cordero had in all of 2004, when the hard-throwing
right-hander set a Rangers record with 49 saves.

"It just seems like every time, it's just one pitch," said
Cordero, who has three saves.

Texas led 4-3 until Johnson's first homer, a 410-foot shot into
the Rangers bullpen in right-center field. Cordero said it was a
fastball that stayed over the middle of the plate for Johnson, who
was hitting only .130.

"A guy who's gotten off to a fairly rotten start ends up tying
the game, and Jay Payton got his first RBI of the season at a time
when they were big," manager Ken Macha said. "It's a pretty big
win there, particularly when your pitcher goes down in the middle
of the game, and they jump off to a pretty good lead."

Frank Thomas and Bobby Crosby also homered for the A's, who have
won only five of their last 15 games.

Mench's homer came in the fourth inning against Kiko Calero, who
had just entered when Rich Harden left because of back spasms.
Macha said Harden, who struck out six in 3 1-3 innings, would
return to Oakland for an MRI exam on Thursday.

The slam put the Rangers up 4-1, but they didn't score again and
lost for only the fourth time in 13 games after leaving the bases
loaded in the 10th.

It was Mench's second grand slam in his homer streak, and the
third of his career. He has 20 RBI this season, all in the last
seven games.

"I'm still missing some balls I should be hitting," Mench
said. "I'm just getting back to that feel I had in spring
training, just the same comfort level. ... I guess it's something
special. I'm just having fun with it."

Carl Everett (April 2003), Alex Rodriguez (August 2003) and Mark
Teixeira (July 2004) all homered in five straight games for Texas.

The major league record for consecutive games with a home run is
eight, shared by Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr.
Nineteen players have homered in six straight games, with Morgan
Ensberg of Houston also doing it this season.

C.J. Wilson (1-2), who relieved Cordero to start the 10th,
walked leadoff hitter Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez singled. Antonio
Perez sacrificed. and Payton's single through a drawn-in infield
gave him his first RBI of the season.

"I just smacked it up the middle," Payton said. "If that
second baseman had gotten to that ball, I probably would have just
kept running out of the stadium. Or maybe run out there and picked
a fight with him."

Cordero entered to a mix of cheers a boos, having blown a save
in the ninth Tuesday night before the Rangers won 6-5 on Blalock's
RBI single in the bottom half of the inning.

"I'm going through a really tough time, but I'm know that I'm a
better pitcher than I'm showing right now," Cordero said. "I'm
thinking positive. I'm sure this is going to end and I'm going to
have a great season."

Justin Duchscherer (2-1) pitched two innings. Joe Kennedy worked
the 10th for his first save, getting Hank Blalock on a game-ending
flyout after allowing two singles and a walk. Mench was on deck.

All of Harden's strikeouts came in a span of seven batters. The
lone batter who didn't strike out was Mench, whose single in the
second extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games.

Thomas led off the fourth with his fifth homer this season and
453rd of his career. That broke a tie with Gary Sheffield and Carl
Yastrzemski for 27th on the career homer list. His 1,475th career
RBI tied Billy Williams for 46th place. Crosby hit a two-run homer
in the sixth.

Game notes
Rangers starter Kameron Loe allowed three runs and six hits
in six innings. ... It was the first extra-inning game for both
teams. ... Thomas finished 3-for-4, raising his average to .194.