Rangers lament missed chances in loss to Athletics

ARLINGTON -- Scott Feldman did his part Tuesday night, allowing two runs in four innings in a spot start.

So did Michael Kirkman, Koji Uehara and, in a pleasant development, Alexi Ogando on a night when the Texas Rangers' pitching staff was forced into scramble mode.

Scheduled starter Yu Darvish was scratched a few hours before the first pitch, and Joe Nathan or Mike Adams weren't available out of the bullpen.

Mark Lowe, though, didn't get the job done, surrendering a homer to George Kottaras to start the 10th inning that proved to be the fatal blow for the Rangers in a 3-2 loss to Oakland at Rangers Ballpark.

But don't put the blame solely on Lowe, who continues to struggle, or manager Ron Washington for not turning to a more reliable bullpen arm with the game on the line.

The offense was just as culpable for a scoring chance it missed nine innings earlier.

An inability to drive home Josh Hamilton from third base with no outs in the first inning let Athletics starter Tommy Milone off the hook. The A's recovered, and end up trimming the Rangers' lead in the American League West back to four games as the magic number for clinching the title held at five.

"It was [costly], especially with where we were in the lineup, but we didn't get it done," Washington said. "We got through the ninth inning, and they hit a home run."

Feldman led 2-0 after the first, thanks to sloppy defense by Oakland. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus opened with singles, and Hamilton followed with a single to right that snuck under the glove of right fielder Brandon Moss.

Kinsler and Andrus scored, and Hamilton was held at third with the Rangers' Nos. 4, 5 and 6 hitters coming up.

A hit wasn't needed. A sacrifice fly or even a groundout would have done the job, but Adrian Beltre popped out, Nelson Cruz hit a tapper in front of the mound, and Michael Young struck out.

"You figure in that situation, when you have four, five and six coming, someone will put the ball in play to get that run in," Washington said. "I think you have to give Milone credit for the way he pitched out of it."

The Rangers are 4 for 38 in their past six games with runners in scoring position, and 0 for 8 in three chances with a runner at third and no outs. As a result, the Rangers have scored five or fewer runs in six consecutive games, a drought that hasn't been seen since a dreadful July.

"Same old thing: If we're getting guys out there, we have all the confidence in the world that we're going to bring them in," Young said.

The A's got one of the runs back in the second, as two walks and a Daric Barton double made it 2-1, and Chris Carter homered with two outs in the fourth to tie the score.

Kirkman took over in the fifth and struck out four in two scoreless innings to get to the back of the bullpen. Uehara did his part with a perfect seventh, and Ogando worked two scoreless innings as the Rangers' offense continued to misfire.

The Rangers came close in the seventh, but Moss made an over-the-shoulder catch near the right-field wall to rob Andrus with the bases loaded and two outs.

Andrus and Hamilton ran the Rangers out of innings in the sixth and eighth by getting picked off.

The lack of execution bit the Rangers in the 10th, when Kottaras knocked a Lowe fastball into the home-run porch in right. Tanner Scheppers, coming off a knee injury, eventually replaced Lowe and got the final out.

Nathan had warmed in the bottom of the eighth, but the Rangers decided to stay away from him after he pitched two days in a row.

"Some of those other guys have to come in out of the bullpen and get outs," Washington said. "It can't always be Mike Adams and Joe Nathan.

"Mark Lowe came in and had to get us three outs. He didn't get it."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST