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Last-place Rangers add to A's struggles with victory

• Turning point: Jerry Hairston and Marlon Byrd hit two-run doubles in the fourth and fifth innings to provide the offensive support for the Rangers.

• Hero: Jamey Wright pitched seven scoreless innings for Texas, his longest start in 13 months.

• Presence of a champ: Joey Chestnut, the San Jose State student who won the national hot dog eating contest at Coney Island last week, threw out the first pitch.

• Quotable: "I felt strong, that's for sure -- better than I felt before the [All-Star] break." -- Wright

-- ESPN.com news services

Rangers 4, A's 1

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Although Jamey Wright has spent far too
much of his star-crossed career battling through injuries, the
Texas right-hander discovered he's tough to beat when he gets 11
days' rest between starts.

Facing the struggling Oakland Athletics doesn't hurt, either.

Jerry Hairston and Marlon Byrd hit two-run doubles and Wright
pitched seven scoreless innings in the Rangers' 4-1 victory over
Oakland on Monday night, the A's eighth straight loss.

Sammy Sosa doubled and scored two runs for the last-place
Rangers, who won their second straight road game to move within 3½
games of the third-place A's.

Wright (3-2), who missed two months of the season with right
shoulder problems, hadn't pitched since July 4, but he produced his
best start of the season for the Rangers when they dearly needed
it.

He yielded four hits and three walks while silencing Oakland's
punchless lineup and providing some much-needed rest for the Texas
bullpen after Sunday's 11-inning win at Los Angeles.

"I felt strong, that's for sure -- better than I felt before the
[All-Star] break," Wright said after his longest start in 13
months. "I don't think I'll get 11 days before my next start, so
I'll be ready for that, too."

The sinkerballer, who went 6-10 across the Bay for San Francisco
last season, faltered in his final two innings when he lost his
good grip on the ball. He still struck out Marco Scutaro with two
runners in scoring position to end the seventh inning.

Wright, who lowered his ERA from 5.55 to 4.31, hadn't made a
start without giving up a run since July 2005.

"He was pounding the strike zone," Texas manager Ron
Washington said. "Had the sinker working. He got in trouble a
couple of times, but got the ground balls to get out of it, and
that's exactly what you want to see out of him."

Eric Gagne picked up his 14th save in 15 chances after coming in
with two on and nobody out in the ninth. He retired two batters
before giving up an RBI single by Scutaro, but struck out new A's
starting catcher Kurt Suzuki to end it.

Oakland played without catcher Jason Kendall, who was traded to
the Chicago Cubs before the game, and Eric Chavez, a last-minute
scratch with tightness in his lower back. The lineup changes did
nothing to help the A's, who are on their longest losing skid since
May 2005.

"Right now we just have more guys than not struggling a little
bit," A's manager Bob Geren said. "Any time you're not swinging
the bat the way you'd like, you put pressure on yourself because
you're letting the team down. It looks like kind of a group
effort."

With last season's ALCS memories fading with every losing week,
Oakland is a season-worst five games under .500 while scoring fewer
than four runs in 11 straight games.

"We've got enough problems of our own not to worry about the
problems anyone else is having," said Washington, the longtime A's
coach who took over the Rangers last winter.

The A's opened the second half of the season with four straight
losses in Minnesota, the first time they've been swept in a
four-game series since July 2003. A small crowd turned out to see
two losing teams seemingly going nowhere on a chilly Oakland
evening.

Dallas Braden (1-4), recalled from Triple-A Sacramento before
the game, had seven strikeouts in six innings, but gave up eight
hits. Texas scored two runs in the fourth on Hairston's shot into
the gap, which snapped a 2-for-31 skid for the second baseman.

The Rangers then added two more in the fifth when Sosa and Byrd
hit consecutive doubles.

Suzuki, anointed by general manager Billy Beane as Oakland's new
starter after Kendall's departure in a deal for catcher Rob Bowen
and a minor-league pitcher, went 0-for-3 with a walk.

"Instead of doing what we do, we're getting out of our zone,"
A's outfielder Shannon Stewart said. "Everyone is trying to get
something going. It happens when you're losing. Everything's
magnified."

Michael Young's first-inning double was his first extra-base hit
since June 15. The Texas All-Star's previous 26 hits all were
singles.

Game Notes
Joey Chestnut, the San Jose State student who won the
national hot dog eating contest at Coney Island last week, threw
out the first pitch. ... Texas RHP Akinori Otsuka might be ready to
return from a sore elbow Tuesday after an encouraging bullpen
session at the Coliseum. Otsuka is the Rangers' top setup man and
attractive trade bait. ... Brad Wilkerson made a face-first diving
catch on the left-field line in the fourth inning to rob Bobby
Crosby of a hit.