OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Texas manager Ron Washington is convinced the Rangers will play better even though they are now two games under .500.
Washington watched the Rangers lose 4-2 to Oakland on Wednesday to fall nine games behind the AL West leading Athletics.
“I’m not concerned about being nine out, not right now,” Washington said. “Losing two out of three here, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played. We just have to get consistent.”
Brandon Moss hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the fifth inning against Nick Tepesch (2-3), who is winless in his last four starts. That was just after the Rangers pulled even in the top of the inning.
“We have to get more than five innings out of our starting pitching and we have to have a shutdown inning after we score runs,” Washington said. “You can’t go out there and all of a sudden people are all over the bases and we can’t get a shutdown inning.”
Tepesch allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out one. Tepesch was replaced after throwing 99 pitches. In contrast, Sonny Gray (7-3) threw 100 pitches and worked seven innings.
“They had a lot of deep counts and saw a lot of pitches,” Tepesch said. “That’s to their advantage. They are a patient club and have a plan at the plate. I’m just trying to stick to the game plan. If I make good pitches, we can turn them into outs.”
Shin-Soo Choo, who had two hits to end an 0 for 14 stretch, singled home a pair of runs with two outs in the fifth to tie the game before Moss came back to give the A’s the lead.
“That’s how I had been pitching him,” Tepesch said of Moss. “I might have gotten too much of the plate or the pitch was not quite as good as I threw earlier. Any time your team scores runs, it’s a pitcher’s job to out and have a quick inning and put up a zero. I didn’t do that.”
Washington thought the Rangers should have been out of the third inning without giving up a run. Craig Gentry led off with an infield single that gave Elvis Andrus some trouble.
“I know I’m fielding a ball from a fast guy and I have to get rid of it as soon as possible,” Andrus said. “It kind of fumbled in my hand. We just have to turn the page and keep playing hard.”
John Jaso followed with an RBI double and, two outs later, Josh Donaldson singled home another run.
“I thought (Tepesch) pitched well,” Washington said. “That ground ball by Gentry was an out. They gave him a hit but that was an out. We should have been out of the third with no runs.”
Scott Baker pitched three scoreless innings to keep the Rangers close but Gray and two relievers were able to keep Texas off the scoreboard.
“Scott gave us a chance to get back in it, which we couldn’t do,” Washington said.
The victory gave the Athletics (44-28) the best record in the majors.
“It was a tough series,” Rangers outfielder Alex Rios said. “We just couldn’t do much besides the first day. What are we going to do? We have to keep playing. We’re not looking at the standings. We’re just playing ball.”
Gray, who gave up two runs and six hits, improved to 8-2 in 13 career starts against teams from within the A’s division.
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