OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Josh Donaldson provided Oakland’s biggest highlight with a breathtaking catch. He also provided the lowlight when he ran through a stop sign to kill one of the few rallies the Athletics managed against Martin Perez.
Perez allowed one run in seven innings to win his sixth straight start and Mitch Moreland homered to move the Texas Rangers back into sole possession of first place in the AL West with a 5-1 victory over Oakland on Tuesday night.
Donaldson’s long run and dive over the tarp to make a backhand catch in the sixth inning against David Murphy was the game’s most memorable moment, drawing praise from both clubhouses.
“You’re not going to see too many plays better than that,” manager Bob Melvin said.
But it was Donaldson’s play at the end of the third inning that turned the momentum and put the Rangers back alone in first place a day after the A’s tied them with a win in the series opener.
Donaldson was on second with two outs when Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder into the hole between third and shortstop. Jurickson Profar got to the ball but held onto it as he had no play at first.
Donaldson ran through coach Mike Gallego’s stop sign and was easily thrown out at home despite barreling into A.J. Pierzynski.
“For some reason I thought I heard `go,”‘ Donaldson said. “I know it wasn’t Gags because as soon as I took two steps he was saying, `Stay here, stay here.’ It ended up being a really bad play for us and for myself.”
Texas scored four runs over the next two innings and Oakland didn’t get another good scoring chance against Perez.
After struggling as a late-season call-up last September when he lost twice to the A’s to help Oakland steal the AL West title from Texas. Perez (9-3) is doing his best to win that title back this year.
“He’s grown leaps and bounds really,” manager Ron Washington said. “It’s maturity. The experience he had last year up here helped him tremendously. He realized he can pitch up here and he just goes out there and pitches. Right now a lot of good things are happening for him.”
Bartolo Colon (14-6) allowed three unearned runs in the fifth inning following his own error and missed an opportunity to become first pitcher to reach 20 career wins against Texas. Colon is winless in five starts since July 26 with a DL stint in the middle of that stretch.
Colon, making his second start back from a strained left groin, stranded runners on third with less than two outs in the first and third innings. But he lost the lead on Moreland’s solo homer with two outs in the fourth.
The Rangers struck for three unearned runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead with help from two comebackers that Colon could not handle. The rally started when Craig Gentry reached on an error with one out when his grounder popped out of Colon’s glove. Gentry scored on Profar’s double into the right-field corner that rookie Michael Choice bobbled.
Ian Kinsler followed with another comebacker that hit off Colon’s glove and was riled an infield single. Adrian Beltre added a run-scoring groundout and Pierzynski blooped an RBI single before Choice ended the inning with a sliding catch of Alex Rios’ liner.
“The one play that made the difference was the groundball hit to me that I dropped,” Colon said through an interpreter. “It was a routine play.”
Rios added a leadoff homer in the eighth to make it 5-1.
Perez followed up his perfect August by winning again to start September, shutting Oakland down after Coco Crisp doubled and scored on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly in the first.
Perez became the first Texas pitcher to win six consecutive starts since Kenny Rogers won eight straight in 2005. His last four wins have come against All-Star pitchers, outdueling Seattle’s Felix Hernandez twice and Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox once.
NOTES: Pierzynski caught his 100th game for Texas, joining Bill Dickey, Johnny Bench and Brad Ausmus as the only players to reach that milestone in 13 straight seasons. … Rangers SS Elvis Andrus missed his third straight game with a sore back and could be back for the series finale Wednesday or Friday in Anaheim. … Oakland’s Jarrod Parker (10-6), who is 8-0 in his last 17 starts, takes Yu Darvish (12-6) in the series finale Wednesday.
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