Colby Lewis urged the media who assembled around him late Monday night to speak to Donnie Murphy or Michael Choice or Robinson Chirinos or Adrian Beltre, the Texas Rangers who did the heavy lifting at O.co Coliseum.
Lewis was right, though his performance did merit some discussion. So did the brief appearance from Robbie Ross.
The relentless Oakland A’s lineup had something to do with the pitching issues Lewis and Ross faced. The inconsistent Rangers offense ultimately helped cover up the mound blemishes in a 14-8 victory to open a three-game series.
Murphy hit two homers as the Rangers went deep a season-high four times, and he was one of three players to drive in three runs. The Rangers matched their season-high for runs, also done May 4 at Anaheim.
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That, as Lewis said, deserved the bulk of the conversation.
“It was very nice, and we needed every run we put on the board,” manager Ron Washington said. “They kept fighting back, but we didn’t stop playing. The bottom line is we won the game.”
Chirinos and Choice were part of the Rangers’ biggest power display this season. Beltre and Chirinos drove in three runs apiece. Chirinos and Rougned Odor each collected three hits.
“It was nice that we all came out and contributed tonight,” Murphy said. “It was a nice team win.”
Chirinos got the Rangers going in the second after Oakland had struck for two in the first. He lined a single past shortstop to score Beltre and Alex Rios.
After a quiet third, Rios opened the fourth with a single and came home on Murphy’s third homer of the season. Those were the first of six runs the Rangers would score in the inning, which included an RBI single by Daniel Robertson, an RBI groundout by Elvis Andrus and a two-run double by Beltre.
Choice hit his seventh homer of the season in the fifth to snap an 0-for-16 skid, and Andrus’ legs produced a sixth-inning run on a Beltre sacrifice fly caught near the A’s bullpen by third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Lewis (5-4) took an 11-3 lead into the sixth inning, but got only one more out. Oakland got him for two runs, and Ross was tagged for two of the three runs Yoenis Cespedes delivered with a mammoth shot to left field to turn a Rangers runaway into bit of a nail-biter at 11-7.
“That team doesn’t quit, and they can put runs on the board in a hurry,” Washington said.
The A’s collected another run against Shawn Tolleson in the seventh and had the trying run at the plate, but Neal Cotts caught Kyle Blanks looking at a borderline third strike to end the threat.
Oakland gave back a run in the eighth as Alberto Callaspo booted a Shin-Soo Choo grounder with the infield in. Robertson scored to restore a four-run lead.
Murphy and Chirinos went back-to-back to start the ninth.
“I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t get a little nervous when it was 11-8,” Murphy said. “But we didn’t buckle under. We put together some good at-bats and got some more runs. It was good to see.”
The Rangers have needed more runs when Lewis and Ross have pitched. Lewis admitted that he didn’t have his best stuff, but it didn’t look terribly different from nights when he has been sharp.
But he still has enough of an idea of how to make pitches in tight spots, as he did to get Cespedes with the bases loaded to end the second. Ross, though, appears to be lost.
He entered with a runner at second and got ahead of Banks before losing him. The Cespedes result wasn’t a shock, at least not with the way Ross has been going.
Ross, though, still has a spot in the bullpen even though Aaron Poreda at Triple A Round Rock is a better left-handed option.
“If he hits his spots, he’s good,” Washington said. “If he doesn’t hit his spots, he gets in trouble.”
Fortunately for the Rangers, their offense covered up their mound blemishes for a night.