Texas loses opener to A's as AL West is tied up
Lance Berkman has returned to the Texas Rangers for a stretch run he knows will be wild. Consider the pesky opponent: Defending division champion Oakland.
Coco Crisp hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth inning that was confirmed by a video review, and Texas fell into a first-place tie atop the AL West with 4-2 loss to the Athletics on Monday.
''I don't think either of us is going to run away with it over the last 25 games,'' Berkman said. ''It's going to go down to the wire.''
Berkman started at DH and went 0 for 4 one day after Texas activated him from the disabled list. He had been out since July 7 with left hip inflammation and a sore surgically repaired right knee.
Unlike early September last year, the Rangers and A's are neck and neck.
Yoenis Cespedes homered leading off the second inning and Chris Young added an RBI single in Oakland's fourth straight win. David Murphy hit a tying two-run shot in the Texas fifth for his first homer since Aug. 1. But the Rangers loaded the bases against Dan Otero with one out in the sixth and couldn't deliver.
They missed chances in the seventh, eighth and ninth, too.
''We gave ourselves opportunities and we didn't take advantage of them at all. It's a game of opportunities and we need to take advantage of ours. One hit at the right time today would have made a difference,'' manager Ron Washington said. ''We're not going anywhere. We're right here in Oakland and we'll show up and play.''
Crisp set a career high with his 17th homer that stayed just fair of the left-field foul pole, topping his 16 for Cleveland in 2005. He homered for the third straight game to help the A's (79-58) move a season-best 21 games over .500.
He didn't think it would stay fair. Texas starter Derek Holland (9-7) thought it was foul, but accepted the call on a day he was more frustrated with his season high-tying five walks.
''It got reviewed, it hit the pole. Give credit to Coco,'' he said. ''Five walks is not acceptable. There's no reason for it. I didn't execute my pitches. It was all around terrible by me.''
A's lefty reliever Brett Anderson, pitching at home for the first time since April 29, worked a 10-pitch seventh, helped by Ian Kinsler's inning-ending double play. Ryan Cook worked out of a jam in the eighth and Grant Balfour finished for his 36th save in 38 tries as the Rangers left the tying run at second.
Oakland won for the seventh time in eight games and is hoping for another strong September like its 17-11 showing last year on the way to the West crown on the final day.
The Rangers - stunned in Game 162 last year - fell out of sole possession of first place for the first time since Aug. 9, the last time the A's shared the lead.
''I expect it to go all the way down to the end. Division champs over there,'' Washington said. ''I don't expect them to go away and I certainly don't expect us to go away. Everything goes through Oakland. Doesn't matter where positioned in the standings right now.''
The Rangers had their three-game road winning streak snapped with just their third defeat in the last 15 games away from Arlington.
Young singled in a second run for the A's three batters after Cespedes connected for his 21st homer. Center fielder Leonys Martin missed the ball on Young's base hit and it got past him for a two-base error. Young tried to score on the play and was thrown out at home after stumbling slightly rounding third.
''We're playing OK, maybe not our best, and we're tied for first with a team playing well, too,'' Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre said. ''We'll take our chances. Our destiny is in our hands.''
The Rangers won three of the teams' first four series this year - and, after this week, the clubs play once more in Arlington from Sept. 13-15.
NOTES: Holland allowed more than one home run for just the third time all year. The lefty also failed to go five innings for the first time in 14 starts. ... Murphy snapped a 23-game homerless streak. ... Martin struck out a career-high four times, the first game he has had more than two Ks. ... The Rangers will recall RHP Ross Wolf and OFs Engel Beltre and Joey Butler on Tuesday.