September 11, 2011

Rangers' lead trimmed as A's pinch-hitter delivers grand slam

A pivotal matchup in the sixth inning goes in Oakland's favor.

ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington liked his chances no matter who Oakland planned to send to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning Saturday afternoon.

Left-hander Mike Gonzalez was on the mound for the Texas Rangers with a left-handed hitter due up.

Right-hander Yoshinori Tateyama was warming in the bullpen in case A's manager Bob Melvin sent a right-handed hitter to face Gonzalez.

That's the route Melvin took when Scott Sizemore went in to pinch-hit for Eric Sogard. So, Tateyama entered for Gonzalez.

Sizemore swung at the second pitch, and the Rangers never recovered.

Sizemore delivered a pinch-hit grand slam off Tateyama in a five-run sixth inning, and the Rangers' offense couldn't push across the tying run late as Oakland held on for an 8-7 victory.

"I thought I had the right matchup there," Washington said. "Hey, Sizemore got him."

The loss, coupled with second-place Los Angeles' victory over New York, trimmed the Rangers' lead in the American League West to 1 1/2 games.

The decisive inning at Rangers Ballpark started with Alexi Ogando on the mound in a 3-3 game. Oakland had scored three times in the second against Ogando, who was undone by a throwing error against catcher Yorvit Torrealba on a sacrifice bunt by David DeJesus.

The key play was a two-run triple by Ryan Sweeney, on which right fielder David Murphy slipped at the wall while retrieving the ball.

But the Rangers chipped away in the third for a run and evened the score with two more in the fourth as Mitch Moreland banged a two-out RBI double.

After a perfect fifth, his best inning, Ogando hit Josh Willingham with a pitch to start the sixth and allowed a single to DeJesus before being lifted at the 85-pitch mark in his first start after an eight-day layoff.

He had done enough.

"I felt like he had gotten us as far as he needed to," Washington said. "I thought he battled. He kept us in the ballgame. One misplay early in the game there when they ended up getting three runs instead of two. That could have been the difference right there."

Gonzalez entered for two quick outs before pitching around Kurt Suzuki to load the bases, which is exactly what the Rangers wanted him to do.

Then, Oakland sent up Sizemore and the Rangers countered with Tateyama. The grand slam was the first of Sizemore's career.

"I gave him a pitch to hit," said Tateyama, who became the first pitcher since 1998 to allow grand slams to consecutive batters after giving up one against to Boston on Sept. 3. "I didn't want to get behind in the count too much."

The A's added another against Tateyama before Adrian Beltre hit his first homer since July 19 to make it 8-5. The Rangers kept the comeback going in the seventh, with two more runs coming on a Michael Young single.

But the A's snuffed out the Rangers over next two innings. The eighth started with a single by Torrealba, but Moreland hit a liner that first baseman Brandon Allen snared while standing on first base for a double play.

In the ninth, the Rangers had Josh Hamilton at second base and Young at first with two outs for Beltre, who sent a sharp line drive right at second baseman Adam Rosales for the final out.

"We always know we have a good offense, and can score some runs after the sixth inning and try to fight back," said Beltre, who was 3 for 5. "We had a couple chances today, but we didn't capitalize. It's a little sad that we fight all the way back like that and lose the game."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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