Take a bow, all those who had Justin Grimm as the first Texas Rangers starting pitcher to win a game in June.
Take another bow, all those who had David Murphy and Leonys Martin, batting eighth and ninth in the lineup, as the catalysts for a struggling offense.
They weren’t the only three contributors Wednesday night for the Rangers in a 9-4 victory over first-place Oakland. But their unexpected contributions, especially from the left-handed-hitting Murphy and Martin against a lefty pitcher, helped turn a 3-2 deficit into a cakewalk and a Grimm W.
Murphy had two hits off Tommy Milone to spark rallies in the fifth and sixth innings, and he and Martin scored two runs apiece as the Rangers won for the second time in three games after enduring a six-game losing streak.
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“That’s the team we are,” said right fielder Nelson Cruz, another key piece in the win. “We lost six games in a row, but the guys in here forgot about it. It’s not a surprise that we came back.”
Grimm (6-5) was the beneficiary of the fifth-inning rally. He had just coughed up a 2-0 lead by issuing two walks and a three-run homer to Chris Young in the top half, and was losing when he threw what turned out to be his final pitch.
But Murphy opened the home half with a bloop single to center, and Martin followed with a sharp single to right. Ian Kinsler delivered a 3-3 tie when his sacrifice fly scored Murphy.
Martin used his speed two batters later to score just ahead of a wide throw home from third baseman Josh Donaldson on a Cruz bouncer.
“We got good production from the bottom tonight, and that was nice,” manager Ron Washington said. “We made Milone throw some pitches, and we battled him. After seeing so many pitches from him, I think we got comfortable.”
Grimm and the Rangers were in a lead that would only grow in the sixth behind four consecutive one-out singles.
Robinson Chirinos, making his first career start at first base, started the rally and went to second on a liner to left by Murphy. Dan Otero replaced Milone, and promptly served up RBI singles to Martin and Kinsler.
Cruz and Adrian Beltre also drove in runs in the Rangers’ biggest inning of the month.
Murphy entered the game hitting .209 and was 9 for 59 in his previous 16 games before his first three-hit game of the season. Martin was in the lineup instead of the right-handed-hitting Craig Gentry as the hot hand (8 for 22).
“I hope it’s something that can jump-start him, because we need to him to keep going,” Washington said of Murphy. “We’re going to keep running him out there.”
Cruz had three hits and two RBIs, Lance Berkman swatted a two-run homer in the second inning, Kinsler had two hits and an RBI, and all nine Rangers starters reached base in their highest-scoring game since May 30.
It added up to the first win for a Rangers starter in 18 games, since Derek Holland beat Kansas City on May 31.
Grimm was working quickly and efficiently through four scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and a walk.
Beltre snared a Seth Smith liner to start the fifth, but Grimm walked two of the next three hitters and fell behind Young before the struggling center fielder dumped a 3-1 pitch onto Greene’s Hill to give the A’s a sudden 3-2 lead.
But the Rangers’ deficit didn’t last, thanks to an offensive cast led by Murphy and Martin, and Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts made the 4-3 lead stand up in the sixth before the Rangers pulled away and closed within two games of the lead in the American League West.
“I’m happy with the win, but it was a team win,” Grimm said. “I felt I could have gone longer, but Washington made the decision and I understand it. It was a close game.”