A's offensive outburst not enough to down Rangers

A's offensive outburst not enough to down Rangers

A's offensive outburst not enough to down Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Keeping up with the Rangers.

It's a reality show that never fails to entertain.

In Thursday's episode, it was the A's making a guest appearance in a 3 hour and 54 minute marathon, ultimately falling, 7-6, in the series opener.

The lengthy contest, one of four to be played through Sunday, continued a strange couple of days for Oakland's offense, which saw three home runs in the first three innings -- courtesy Josh Reddick, Derek Norris and Cliff Pennington against Scott Feldman -- account for its first three hits, continuing a stretch initiated Wednesday in Seattle that saw the A's compile five straight hits that were home runs.

Coco Crisp's third-inning single snapped the streak, which marked a first for the A's since Sept. 22-23, 2001 and the fourth time overall in Oakland history. The record is six straight, only achieved once June 15-16, 1971.

"Home runs are really nice, but you can't really rely on those every night," said Reddick.

Apparently not.

By night's end, the A's had compiled 12 hits, two more than they managed in three games combined in Seattle, but Texas posted 14, and the Rangers scored in four of the first six innings, including four times in the fifth to wipe away a 4-2 A's lead.

Oakland starter Tyson Ross didn't get out of the frame, walking leadoff man Leonys Martin and allowing back-to-back singles to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus to put runners at the corners before exiting in favor of Jim Miller.

At the time, Ross still held a one-run lead, and he had just 77 pitches to his name. But manager Bob Melvin didn't need to see any more.

"I just felt, at that time, we needed someone else in the game," Melvin said. "It didn't look like his stuff was getting better. It was going downhill a little bit.

"Going out in that inning, that's his game. Not his best outing, yet when you have a lead you can't walk guys. That's kind of how it started, right?"

"Any time you get a lead, you want to keep it, especially against a team whose offense is so good," Ross said. "I gotta be better than that and battle. I can't have leadoff walks. You see what happens right there. That really just came back to bite me in the butt. Any time you find yourself in a jam, you want to get out of it. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get that chance."

Miller, who entered the game with the American League's eighth best ERA at 1.48, didn't fare much better with command, walking in a run after issuing two straight free passes and offering up a two-run single to David Murphy.

Miller was tagged with one of those runs, as Ross' final line from four-plus innings of work included five runs on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts. The outing, his fifth consecutive loss, represented the seventh time in 12 starts this season he hasn't reached the six-inning plateau. Not once has he passed it.

Texas extended its 6-4 lead to three runs in the sixth, courtesy of Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly, before Oakland plated two in the seventh to narrow that margin to one. Yoenis Cespedes tallied his second RBI hit of the night in the frame -- he is 9-for-15 with six RBIs against the Rangers -- and Seth Smith aided the comeback effort with a sacrifice fly.

But the A's were held scoreless over the final two innings, leaving three on base in those frames, en route to dropping to 8-11 in one-run games. Each of their last six losses have been by one run.

"We're obviously facing a better lineup," Reddick said. "I remember looking up there today, thinking, 'Only three of these guys are hitting below .270.' We know as much as the league knows these guys can hit the baseball. They're up there with the best of everyone."

The A's didn't have one player hitting above .270 before Thursday, as it wasn't until Cespedes compiled three hits did he raise his average to .279. Yet they're still just three games below the .500 mark and owner of a 4-3 record against the Rangers this year.

"This division that we've gotten in is tough," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Seattle is tough. Maybe they're not winning, but they've got good pitching and on any night they can beat you. You saw tonight what Oakland can do. They've got some good pitching over there, they got some guys that can swing the bat, they've got some speed. It's starting to even up. You definitely have to be on top of your game in this division."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.