OAKLAND (AP) – Jake Smolinski needed little time to get back into the swing of things after missing nearly two months with a broken left foot.
Smolinski hit his first career homer, and the Texas Rangers took advantage of sloppy play from Oakland to beat the Athletics 6-3 Tuesday night for their first four-game winning streak since April.
Smolinski provided the big offensive blow in the fourth inning with a two-run shot off Scott Kazmir (14-9) in his first game against live pitching since breaking a bone in his left foot while fouling off a pitch on July 21.
“That’s one I won’t forget,” he said. “It was kind of cool. It was nice to get that first hit back out of the way.”
After strengthening their AL wild-card lead by beating Seattle in the final two games of a weekend series, the A’s looked sloppy in the opener of a nine-game homestand and failed in their attempt to win three straight for the first time since Aug. 7-9.
Oakland made two errors, threw two wild pitches and got another rough outing from Kazmir (14-9) to lose for the 15th time in 22 games. The A’s remained one game ahead of Kansas City for the top wild-card spot. The Mariners are a game behind the Royals for the second berth.
“We just didn’t look like we were ready to play tonight for whatever reason defensively,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We got beat all the way around, unfortunately. I thought we’d come ready to play.”
Nick Tepesch (5-10) allowed three runs in six innings to beat the A’s for the first time in six career appearances.
“He threw the ball well,” interim manager Tom Bogar said. “It has not been a great year, but these games mean a lot for these guys. They’re having fun.”
Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances.
The Rangers added another run in the fourth when Rougned Odor reached on a grounder to Lowrie and scored from first on Daniel Robertson’s single to right. Josh Reddick threw Robertson out at second, but Odor never stopped running on the play and scored.
After the A’s scored twice in the bottom half, the Rangers broke it open with three runs in the fifth after Lowrie’s miscue. Lowrie threw high to first on Ryan Rua’s grounder for a two-base error that allowed Adrian Beltre to score. Robinson Chirinos and Odor added RBI singles to make it 6-2.
TRAINER’S ROOM: OF Michael Choice will be sidelined six to eight weeks with a strained left hamstring, and GM Jon Daniels said it was unlikely Choice will play winter ball as originally planned. … OF Shin-Soo Choo, already out for the season with an elbow injury, will have surgery on his left ankle that shouldn’t impact his availability for next season.
UP NEXT: LHP Derek Holland (1-0) will make his fourth start of the season. The Rangers said he is the first pitcher since at least 1900 to pitch at least seven innings, allow one or fewer runs and no walks in his first three starts of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
SHUTDOWN INNING: Tepesch was frustrated after allowing two runs in the bottom of the fourth to almost squander the lead he was given in the top half. But he came through in his second chance at a shutdown inning, retiring three straight in the fifth after the Rangers added three more runs.
“It was important for me to go back out and get a chance to put up another zero,” he said. “It’s a matter of letting go of what happened, refocusing and regrouping and knowing what I had to do to be successful.”
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