Kennedy powers A's past Rangers
Adam Kennedy knew his long-ball opportunities would be limited against Texas Rangers closer Frank Francisco. With a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s and an effective off-speed pitch, Francisco hadn't allowed a run all season.
Kennedy won the battle, breaking a 4-all tie with a one-out homer in the ninth for his third career multi-homer game, and the Oakland Athletics ended a four-game skid with a 5-4 victory over the AL West-leading Rangers on Sunday.
Kennedy ripped a 1-0 fastball off Francisco (1-1) into the right field seats, ending a streak of 28 appearances without having yielded an earned run. Francisco had 17 2-3 scoreless innings in his first 17 games this season, the most in the majors without giving up a run.
"Off a closer, you're not going to get a whole lot of chances or a whole lot of good pitches to hit," Kennedy said. "When you get one, you want to put a good swing on it."
Francisco didn't show up in the clubhouse for an extended period after the game. When he finally arrived, he said he wasn't upset or ducking reporters but was just going through his usual post-game routine.
"It was a fastball in the middle of the plate," Francisco said of the homer to Kennedy.
Kennedy has been one of the few offensive bright spots for the A's, last in the AL in batting average and homers. Kennedy went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .390.
"When they tie the game and bring in a guy in the ninth who hasn't given up a run all year...you think it might take a couple innings to hold them before you can get a run, just the statistical odds of that," A's manager Bob Geren said. "But you've got to give a lot of credit to Adam Kennedy. He's been phenomenal for us. We haven't had a great start to our season, and what little success we've had, he's always been right in the middle of it."
Andrew Bailey (4-0) pitched the final 1 2-3 innings to earn the win.
A's starter Dallas Braden allowed two runs and five hits over six-plus innings before exiting with a cut on his left thumb. He struck out six and walked two, turning in a performance similar to his last start in Texas on April 30 when he pitched five shutout innings in a 4-2 victory.
Braden gave up a two-out double to Andruw Jones in the first, then settled in to retire 11 in a row into the sixth after the Rangers had outscored the A's in the first three games of the series, 25-6.
Braden faltered in the seventh, allowing a leadoff single to Hank Blalock and a double to Marlon Byrd. After Byrd's hit, Geren and a team trainer went to the mound and Braden's day was over due to the cut on his thumb.
Braden said he accidentally sustained the cut on the team medical case in the dugout between innings.
Geren brought in Craig Breslow, and one out later, Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-run double pulled the Rangers within 4-2.
In the eighth, the Rangers rallied to tie it at 4 on Blalock's RBI single and Byrd's run-scoring infield single, both off Bailey.
Rangers starter Kevin Millwood allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, striking out five and walking two while throwing 116 pitches.
Texas reliever Derek Holland's seventh-inning balk scored Orlando Cabrera from third, and Jack Cust followed with an RBI single to make it 4-0.
Kennedy's solo homer in the first gave Oakland early momentum, and Jason Giambi's sixth-inning blast made it 2-0.
A's center fielder Ryan Sweeney's leaping catch at the wall denied Kinsler's home run bid leading off the first. Sweeney's full-extension grab robbed Kinsler of a three-run homer in the eighth inning of the game at Arlington on April 30.
Texas finished with a May record of 20-9, the most wins in the month in club history. The Rangers, who had won seven of their previous nine, wound up one victory short of matching their most successful month ever (September of 1978 when they went 21-10). ... Blalock started at 1B for the second straight game in place of Chris Davis as Davis continues to work on his swing. Davis came on as a defensive replacement in the ninth. ... Cust and 3B Jack Hannahan were back in the Oakland lineup after missing Saturday night's game with back spasms.