Gonzalez minimizes damage in pressure spot

Rangers reliever eans win with two scoreless innings

Gonzalez minimizes damage in pressure spot

OAKLAND -- Rangers pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez made his third professional relief appearance on Tuesday night and this one had much more riding on it than the previous two.

His lack of experience in the role did not fluster him and Gonzalez is now 1-0 as a reliever. Gonzalez bailed out struggling starter Martin Perez with two scoreless innings and the Rangers rallied for an 8-6 victory over the Athletics at the Coliseum.

"He really did a nice job to keep the game close for us," manager Jeff Banister said. "Chi Chi doing in relief what he did tonight was the biggest key for us."

The Rangers trailed, 4-3, into the bottom of the fifth when Brett Lawrie led off with a single to left off of Perez. That brought in Gonzalez, who had warmed up in the second and third innings. Gonzalez had one relief appearance in the Minor Leagues last year and another on Saturday night in the ninth inning of the Rangers' 10-1 win over the Mariners.

"It was the third time he had gotten up so we felt like he was ready," Banister said. "We needed a guy who could throw strikes and get ground balls and that's what he did. We felt like he was the right choice. For him to be able to do that was crucial."

Gonzalez's outing started off with Danny Valencia reaching base as third baseman Adrian Beltre couldn't come up with his high chopper for an error. With runners on first and second, Gonzalez got Billy Butler to hit a double-play grounder right at shortstop Elvis Andrus.

That gave Gonzalez a chance to get out of the inning with two outs and a runner at third. He did get Josh Reddick to hit a high fly ball down the left field line, but novice outfielder Mike Napoli dropped it for an error. Lawrie scored to give the Athletics a two-run lead before Jake Smolinski popped out to end the inning.

"I was just trying to minimize the damage and not let a run score," Gonzalez said. "Unfortunately it did, but after that I was trying to eliminate another run from scoring."

The Rangers came back to score three in the top of the sixth and Gonzalez responded by retiring the side in order in the bottom on the inning. From there, the Rangers had proven setup relievers Keone Kela, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson, and closer Shawn Tolleson lined up to finish the job.

"Whatever it takes to help us out and win, I'll do it," Gonzalez said. "As soon as I got the call, the blood starts flowing, but it just prepares you for the next situation."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.