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OAKLAND, CA (AP) – Brandon Hicks led off the bottom of the ninth with a towering home run to center for his first major league clout, lifting the Oakland Athletics to a 4-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Hicks connected off Michael Kirkman (0-1) for Oakland’s majors-leading ninth walkoff win. He became the fourth player in franchise history to hit a game-ending homer for his first career longball and the second this year — joining Derek Norris, who did it June 25 against San Francisco.
Josh Reddick hit a tying two-run double with two outs in the seventh to help the A’s salvage a two-game split with the AL West-leading Rangers.
Evan Scribner and Sean Doolittle each pitched a perfect inning, and All-Star Ryan Cook (3-2) worked the ninth for the win. Cook hasn’t allowed a run in his last nine outings.
Michael Young hit a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth but the Rangers couldn’t hold it.
Craig Gentry hit an RBI double and Nelson Cruz added a run-scoring single for Texas, which now heads into a key weekend road series against the second-place Angels.
Josh Hamilton went 1 for 4 and kept his average right at .300 for the second straight day. He hasn’t fallen below that mark this year.
Starter Colby Lewis lasted five innings in his comeback from the disabled list, allowing three hits and one run on 75 pitches. He struck out three and walked two.
After Gentry’s double put Texas ahead in the top of the fifth, Brandon Inge homered leading off the bottom half to tie it.
In the sixth, Inge stumbled after fielding Adrian Beltre’s grounder and missed a chance for an out. Young singled moments later as Texas took the lead.
Texas is headed into a stretch with seven of its next 13 games with the Angels. The Rangers open a three-game series at Anaheim on Friday following an off day Thursday.
“Yes, it’s a significant series, significant in that they can either catch up or we can move ahead,” manager Ron Washington said.
Lewis came off the DL to pitch for the first time since allowing season highs of 12 hits and eight runs June 23 against Colorado. It marked his first DL stint since rejoining the Rangers in 2010, and the right-hander had been out since June 24 with tendinitis in his right forearm.
The A’s loaded the bases against Lewis in the fourth and pitching coach Mike Maddux made a mound visit following a two-out walk to Brandon Moss. Then Lewis escaped the jam when he got Derek Norris on an infield popup.
Yoenis Cespedes, back in left field after nursing a sprained left thumb, singled but missed a shot at a fifth straight multihit game.
Coco Crisp returned to Oakland’s lineup, playing center field after missing three games with a sore left shoulder he aggravated on Friday night at Minnesota. He beat out an infield single to start the bottom of the first, then drew a walk and stole second and third in the fifth for his 17th and 18th steals.
A’s starter Travis Blackley gave up three runs on six hits in 5 1-3 innings and pitched well considering his long layoff. He worked out of the bullpen July 7 against Seattle before the All-Star break, but this was his first start since beating the Rangers on July 1 at Texas with seven strong innings.
Inge was 0 for his last 11 and mired in an 8-for-63 funk spanning 17 games before connecting for his eighth home run.
Notes: Cespedes has hit safely in all 10 of his career games against the Rangers, going 17 for 35 … The Rangers optioned LHP Martin Perez to Triple-A Round Rock to clear a roster spot for Lewis’ return. … Lewis has 93 strikeouts to just 14 walks in first 101 innings. … A’s LHP Brett Anderson, recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw a bullpen session and is set to begin a rehab assignment with Class-A Stockton on Saturday. He is slated to make about 45 pitches in his first outing. … Reddick apologized via his Twitter account for postgame remarks Tuesday night downplaying the strong outing of Roy Oswalt. “I’m not going to bad mouth anyone,” he said before the game. “That’s not me.” … Rangers C Yorvit Torrealba and wife, Millie, welcomed a baby girl Tuesday. He’s expected to come off the paternity list and rejoin the club for Friday’s game against the Angels in Anaheim. … Oakland opening day starter Brandon McCarthy (strained throwing shoulder) threw all his pitches in a 25-pitch bullpen session and will be re-evaluated Thursday.
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