Veteran relievers lose command in wild finish

Axford, Rzepczynski take blame for 10th-inning lapse

Veteran relievers lose command in wild finish

ARLINGTON -- The A's latest loss was of the utmost ugly variety, put to bed by a walk-off hit-by-pitch that capped a wild sequence of events at Globe Life Park.

Their deflating 5-4 defeat to host Texas on Tuesday night followed a valiant comeback by an offense that bloomed to life late, tying the game in the ninth and scoring two more times in the 10th -- efforts that were subsequently squashed.

Right-hander John Axford walked the bases loaded with one out and offered up a game-tying, two-run single to Carlos Beltran, leading A's manager Bob Melvin to have lefty Marc Rzepczynski intentionally walk continual A's killer Adrian Beltre with third base open. Rzepczynski's next pitch, to Rougned Odor, hit the Rangers second baseman in the shoulder area, allowing the winning run to freely take home plate.

"Ten innings of hard-fought ball and I just threw it away in three hitters," Axford said.

The veteran reliever made no excuses for his performance, despite rumblings around him of home-plate umpire Joe West's questionable strike zone.

Rzepczynski was straightforward in his remarks, too, saying, "I'm trying to get a ground ball, double play, and I just overthrew the sinker. It ran instead of sank, and it ran right into his shoulder."

Rzepczynski said he understood Melvin's decision to put Beltre on base. The likely future Hall of Famer is 13-for-35 with four home runs -- including a grand slam that propelled the Rangers to victory in Monday's series opener -- and 11 RBIs in nine games against Oakland this year.

"It's never an easy decision to do something unorthodox like that, but I couldn't watch that guy beat us again, especially against a left-handed pitcher," Melvin said. "With two lefties coming up, I thought my best shot was to play in and try to get a ground ball to force it."

"He's probably their best hitter all-around, and he's going to find a way to put the ball in play," Rzepczynski said. "I was going to dial it back in after the walk, and unfortunately I just overthrew a sinker."

Axford maintained accountability for the mess, though.

"I felt strong, I felt good, everything was coming out nice, I felt like I had my electric stuff there," he said, "I just wasn't finding the zone, and some of the borderline ones you're not going to get when you're all over the place and you get something close.

"Can't blame Joe West for not calling a strike when I'm not giving him a zone to establish. I'm throwing a borderline pitch, then I'm throwing a ball way out, then I'm throwing a borderline pitch and a ball way out. I was the one that's doing that, not him, so it's my fault."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.