OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Martin 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 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
After falling into a tie for first with the A’s when they lost the series opener, the Rangers bounced back behind another strong performance from Perez (9-3) and are assured of leaving Oakland for the final time in the regular season with at least a share of the division lead.
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.
The highlight of the game for Oakland came in the sixth inning when third baseman Josh Donaldson raced across the vast foul territory at the Coliseum and leaped over the tarp to make a backhand catch to rob David Murphy.
That spectacular play came after a poor decision earlier in the game that squandered a prime scoring chance for Oakland. 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.
Oakland didn’t threaten again off Perez and lost for just the second time in its past nine games.
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.
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, becoming 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: Moreland has five HRs this season at the Coliseum. … Coco Crisp started at DH instead of CF a day after bruising his right shin on a foul ball as manager Bob Melvin wanted to limit his running. Crisp led off the game with a double and scored on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly. … 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.