OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Alexi Ogando is becoming way too familiar with Josh Reddick’s big bat.
Reddick hit a tying two-run double off the Texas reliever in the seventh inning and Brandon Hicks hit his first major league home run leading off the ninth to lift the Oakland Athletics past the division-leading Rangers 4-3 on Wednesday for a split in the two-game series.
It was Reddick who delivered a tying home run off Ogando in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 5-4, 10-inning victory at Arlington two months ago.
“I’m starting to get to know him and next time I’ve got to make a better pitch,” Ogando said through an interpreter.
The Rangers won’t be able to think about this tough loss for long. After Thursday’s off day, the AL West leaders head into Anaheim for a key weekend series against the second-place Angels.
“Yes, it’s a significant series, significant in that they can either catch up or we can move ahead,” manager Ron Washington said.
Craig Gentry hit an RBI double and Nelson Cruz added a run-scoring single for Texas, which was shut down by Oakland’s bullpen.
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.
Then Hicks drove a 1-1 pitch from Michael Kirkman (0-1) high over the center-field wall and rounded the bases to a home-plate celebration that’s becoming commonplace at the Coliseum.
Hicks connected 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 long ball and the second this year — joining Derek Norris, who did it June 24 against San Francisco.
“It’s exciting to get that big hit in that situation,” Hicks said. “That’s awesome. I’ve been waiting a little while.”
Rangers reliever Robbie Ross allowed Brandon Inge’s leadoff homer in the seventh to have his scoreless streak snapped at 24 innings, which had been the longest active run in the majors.
Michael Young hit a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth but the Rangers couldn’t hold it. 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.
“My arm started to tighten up on me a little bit. But nothing to be concerned about, it’s not painful or anything,” he said. “It was just being precautionary. I have to build on it and go back out and go deeper next time. It’s a long season and we still have a couple of months left. I don’t want to go back on the DL.”
The A’s bounced back after a 6-1 loss Tuesday night. They will host the New York Yankees in a four-game series starting Thursday having won 10 of 12 — with a remarkable four walkoff wins in their last seven home games after getting three all of last year.
“The way we’re playing, if we’d lost both of these games it would have been demoralizing,” manager Bob Melvin said.
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 during which seven of its next 13 games are against the Angels.
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 Norris on an infield popup.
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. It was his fourth multi-steal game this season and 28th of his career.
“You have to give them credit for constantly fighting and then pulling it off,” Washington said.
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.
And he was thrilled with how things turned out.
“Everyone calls us scrappy,” Blackley said. “Don’t sleep on us. All 27 outs, we’re going to keep coming.”
NOTES: 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 his first 101 innings. … Yoenis Cespedes has hit safely in all 10 of his career games against the Rangers, going 17 for 35 … Reddick apologized on Twitter 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.