Sloppy inning costs A's in Texas

Sloppy inning costs A's in Texas

Sloppy inning costs A's in Texas
ARLINGTON -- For three straight days, the Rangers have played the part of host, and for three straight days the A's have generously presented them with gifts as chivalrous guests typically do.

They'd take all back in a heartbeat, though.

After the Rangers took advantage of a handful of walks from Oakland's pitching staff to fight their way back to victories on Thursday and Friday, the A's handed them two too many extra outs on Saturday, leading to another blown lead and a third straight loss, 7-2.

"You can't do that here, and that's something we emphasize," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They know that here. With that lineup in this ballpark, you can't give them breathers."

But because they did, Melvin's club has now dropped six of its past nine games after taking eight of the previous nine. Now five games under .500, the club enters Sunday's finale trailing the season series with division-leading Texas, 4-5.

They're 13 games back of the Rangers, with seven games to play before the All-Star break.

"I really don't look at that," Melvin said. "We just have to play well. We get to start playing well, and then we have a bad stretch. We have to be more consistent and stay away from the streaks sometimes."

The Rangers erased a one-run Oakland lead by scoring five times against A's lefty Tommy Milone in the fifth. Yet all five runs were unearned as a result of fielding miscues by third baseman Brandon Inge and shortstop Brandon Hicks that highlighted a three-error day by the A's.

Inge's inability to handle Nelson Cruz's leadoff grounder jump-started the fateful frame, as Mike Napoli followed with a base hit and moved to third on Yorvit Torrealba's ground ball to Milone, who joined forces with catcher Kurt Suzuki to get Cruz at home. Torrealba made it to second on the play, and he and Napoli scored with two outs on Ian Kinsler's bloop single to left field.

Milone, having already watched his pitch count spike in what would be his last inning, forced a two-out ground ball from Elvis Andrus toward shortstop, but the would-be inning-ending bouncer was bobbled by Hicks, keeping things alive for Josh Hamilton, who capitalized on the extra out by launching a three-run homer to left-center.

"It was supposed to be a cutter, but it kind of flattened up in the zone and just left it over the plate," said Milone, who also gave up a second-inning solo shot to Adrian Beltre. "Against a team like this, good hitters, they get a couple hits, a couple baserunners and get things going, the momentum seems to go their way and everything seemed to go their way that inning."

"It's tough," Inge said. "They're a good team, no matter what. You make mistakes on that team, and it's going to be hard to stay with them. But it's a tricky infield they have there. It's not exactly the most ideal infield. Obviously both teams have to play in the same conditions, but it's a little different. The grass here tends to add a little bit more spin than most places. ... We're a pretty quick infield for the most part, and it kind of works against us."

By the time Beltre struck out to end the frame, marking a career-high-tying six strikeouts for Milone, the A's southpaw had already reached 96 pitches, leading Melvin to utilize his bullpen arms the rest of the way.

Oakland's offense, meanwhile, couldn't play catchup, failing to score after the fourth, when Inge's single plated Chris Carter, who doubled in the inning after hitting his second home run in as many days in the second off Rangers starter Martin Perez.

It was the first big league start for Perez, who had made just one other appearance with the Rangers -- a two-out relief stint on Wednesday. The lefty went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

The A's went just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, failing to capitalize on several scoring opportunities. The Rangers did not.

"We've been taking advantage of those kinds of things," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Tonight was a situation where they made a couple of errors there and we made them pay for it."

"That's probably the most difficult part of it," Inge said. "If the team just clobbers you and beats you around the ballpark, that's one thing. But these are games we actually, in a certain point of the game, feel like we had. Those are tough to give away."

Jane Lee is a reporter for 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.