"That key hit never happened," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We're not where we want to be as an offense. We know we're a lot better. We have to continue to work to get to where we want to be. We're not too proud, we need to be a little more relaxed with guys on base."
A's right-hander Sonny Gray uncharacteristically issued a career-high seven walks to the Rangers, but struck out 10 and only gave up two hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He has tossed 23 2/3 scoreless innings in his last three starts against the Rangers. With the win, Gray improved to 6-2 with a 1.54 ERA in eight career starts against the Rangers, and is now 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA at Globe Life Park.
"He's elite," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Fourteen left on base is not how you draw it up. But also you've got to realize that the cat on the mound that started the game, he had something to do with that. He's pretty good. He's the real deal."
The Rangers were hitless in their first 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position, until Prince Fielder's single to left in the ninth loaded the bases with no outs. After Adrian Beltre, who went 0-for-5 on the day, struck out for the second time, Shin-Soo Choo just missed out on a grand slam, hitting a sacrifice fly to the right-field warning track to drive in the Rangers' only run.
The Rangers stranded two runners in each of the third, sixth and seventh innings, but the best run-scoring opportunity they squandered came in the fourth. Choo, who hit the game-tying homer and scored the game-winning run in Saturday's 8-7 win, led the inning off with a double off the left-field wall.
Gray threw a wild pitch before Kyle Blanks drew a full-count walk to put runners on the corners with no out. After Carlos Peguero struck out for the second straight time, Gray hit Carlos Corporan to load the bases. But Rougned Odor grounded into a fielder's choice that forced Choo out at home and Leonys Martin grounded out to second to end the threat.
"That's why he's one of the best pitchers," Andrus said of Gray. "He's a tough guy. He's got good velocity and his breaking pitch is pretty electric. He pounded the zone a lot early and we weren't able to take advantage. ... When we got guys on base, he was a lot more determined."
Heading into a three-game series against the Astros, winners of 10 straight and owners of the best record in the American League, the Rangers have lost five of their last six games and eight of their last 10. They have yet to win a series this year, and are the only AL team without consecutive wins this season.
"We've got to continue to work and get better," said Banister. "When you have those opportunities, you have to put competitive at-bats together and push some runs across. We fell short today."