A's October Quest: Rangers increase lead with win

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A's October Quest: Rangers increase lead with win

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The sun finally peeked through the clouds and a rainbow appeared beyond center field soon after the Texas Rangers finished playing.All around, it was a bright ending to a drizzly Sunday.Matt Harrison came within one out of a complete game for his 17th victory and the Rangers beat Seattle 2-1, adding to their AL West lead over Oakland for the first time in 10 days."The only thing we can do is keep winning series, and do what we've been doing the past month," Harrison said. "The way they're playing, we've just go to keep going."On his 27th birthday, Harrison (17-9) became the fourth American League pitcher to 17 victories.Adrian Beltre hit his 33rd homer and Mitch Moreland had an RBI double to back the All-Star lefty who has won nine consecutive starts against Seattle since May 2010."Glad we got two runs to support him a little bit," catcher Mike Napoli said. "Overall, everything was pretty good. He had a good changeup, mixed in a couple of curveballs and backdoor sliders. For the most part, he was throwing strikes and missing barrels."With runners on first and third and two outs in the ninth, Koji Uehara struck out Michael Saunders to end the game. It Uehara's first save for Texas since being traded from Baltimore in July 2011.The start of the game was delayed 2 hours and 12 minutes by rain. A light drizzle was still falling when Harrison threw the first pitch, and persisted through the game that took only 2 hours and 20 minutes to play.Two-time defending AL champion Texas (87-59) has the league's best record, and now has a three-game division lead over Oakland. The A's lost for only the second time in 10 games Sunday, 9-5 at home against Baltimore.Texas had a 5 12-game lead on Sept. 6 after winning at Kansas City, gaining a half-game that day on the idle A's. Before Sunday's games, that lead had shrunk to two games - the Rangers' smallest since April 13, a week into the season."They're playing unbelievable," Harrison said. "We've just got to keep winning series."Texas has won eight of its last nine series, and hasn't lost consecutive games in more than a month.The Rangers have their final off day of the regular season Monday. They start a three-game series Tuesday at the Los Angeles Angels, before spending next weekend in Seattle and then playing seven of their last 10 games against the A's.Harrison scattered six hits and struck out five, and his only walk was to Franklin Gutierrez with one out in the ninth. After Kyle Seager's infield popout for the second out, Montero singled to right and manager Ron Washington made the pitching change after 119 pitches.After allowing a single to start the game, Harrison didn't let a runner past first until Justin Smoak led off the eighth with his 16th homer. Harrison benefited from three double plays - two that he started."He did a good job coming in at both left-handers and right-handers, he works that changeup off the fastball, he's able to cut his fastball or sink it, rides it every now and again, a nice breaking ball," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He's got a quick tempo and helped himself, he's great defensively out there, a couple of big double plays. 'Blake Beavan (9-10), pitching for the first time since Sept. 4, allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings. The right-hander was the Rangers' first-round draft pick five years ago before being sent to Seattle in 2010 with Smoak in the Cliff Lee trade.Beltre put the Rangers up 1-0 in the fourth with his eighth homer in 15 games. The 33 homers are one more than he had in his debut with the Rangers last season. The only time he hit more in his career was in 2004 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he led the majors with 48.Murphy had a leadoff single in the fifth and scored when Moreland pulled a double into the right-field corner."We needed the home run from Beltre and we needed the double by Mitch," Washington said. "Up and down our order, someone's going to get one."NOTES: The Rangers said after the game Martin Perez will start Friday's game at Seattle in place of struggling Scott Feldman. ... Seattle played its majors-high 24th rubber game of a series. The Mariners are 11-13 in those games, and had won seven of the previous eight. ... The Rangers are 16-7 in rubber games. ... The NFL's Dallas Cowboys played under sunny skies in Seattle, where they lost. ... During the rain delay, fans were able to see the start of both the Cowboys and A's games on split screen on the big video board. ... The announced paid attendance was 45,928, the 34th sellout at Rangers Ballpark. But a lot of bought tickets were unused on the wet day.

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

HOUSTON — Enduring a five-game losing streak is tough enough on its own.

Watching a former teammate play a part in prolonging the misery is worse.

Josh Reddick wasn’t the most dominant player on the field Friday for the Astros, but he picked his spots to make his presence felt, and that added a little salt to the wound for the A’s in a 9-4 defeat that was their fifth in a row. They’ve now lost 10 straight times to Houston.

Reddick was mad at himself after not making the play on Ryon Healy’s double in the sixth inning. He got another chance in the eighth and robbed his former roommate with a terrific catch as he slammed into the wall to end the inning. That stranded two runners and preserved what was a 7-4 lead at the time.

“Any time you’re playing against your former team you wanna do well against them. Beating them makes it a little bit sweeter,” Reddick said. “But when you can make a catch against a guy you became pretty good buddies with in a tight situation, it adds more to that.”

After Healy got his first big league call-up last July, and before the A’s traded Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, Reddick invited the rookie to move into his house as he cut his teeth in the bigs.

“I’m going to be giving Ryon a lot of crap, I guess you could say,” Reddick said afterward. “He gave me a little signal and finger wave and shook his head on the (double). I got him back and a little bit of payback.”

Reddick, who signed a four-year $52 million free agent deal with Houston in the offseason, was a pest to the A’s in more unconventional ways too. Twice he reached base on catcher’s interference calls when his bat hit the mitt of Stephen Vogt, another of Reddick’s closest friends on the A’s. It happened in the bottom of the first and contributed to the Astros’ three-run rally that tied the game off Jharel Cotton after the A’s had grabbed a 3-0 lead on Khris Davis’ three-run homer.

Vogt talked about both interference plays with mild disgust, more upset with the situation itself than Reddick personally.

“Typically I’m pretty far back behind the batter," Vogt said. “Reddick, I guess, has a pretty long swing when he’s trying to go the other way. … It’s just one of those freak things that obviously I’m not real thrilled about. It’s just frustrating. You don’t see it very often. It’s not really how you swing the bat typically, but he does a good job going the other way, and it’s on me. I’ve gotta make sure I’m far enough back and not reaching for the ball.”

As for Reddick’s important catch in the eighth, Vogt said:

“It’s hard to see him in a different uniform, and I know he loved it here as well. It’s hard to see him playing against us 19 times. To see him making catches like that, it’s not very much fun when he’s not wearing green.”

However, the A’s have more pressing issues than getting stung by old friends. They’ve struck out 57 times over the past five games, and with each day that passes, it’s increasingly clear how much they miss the speed and playmaking ability of center fielder Rajai Davis, as well as the offensive production of shortstop Marcus Semien. Both are on the disabled list, Davis for the short term with a strained hamstring and Semien likely for a couple of months due to wrist surgery.

Cotton wasn’t sharp, allowing a career-high 10 hits and failing to protect two early leads he was given. Those are the growing pains that will come for a rookie pitcher. What the A’s can’t afford are three-error nights like they had Friday and continuing to whiff at their current rate.

“When we went through our winning streak, we played real clean games, and now we’re a little shoddy,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s a psychological play that goes with that. When you’re not making plays and giving extra outs, it makes it tougher on pitchers and tougher mentally.”

Instant Replay: Davis goes deep twice, but A's get sloppy in loss to Astros

Instant Replay: Davis goes deep twice, but A's get sloppy in loss to Astros

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON – Khris Davis’ heroics only stretch so far.

The A’s slugger did all he could to keep his team in Friday night’s game, slamming two homers and driving in four runs, but it wasn’t enough as Oakland fell 9-4 in the opener of a three-game series against the Astros, who have won 10 in a row over Oakland.

That’s five losses in a row for the A’s, who got off to the kind of start Friday that suggested they might break back into the win column. With two aboard, Davis lit into a pitch from Charlie Morton and drove a three-run homer to right-center in the first.

But the early offense wasn’t enough to boost A’s starter Jharel Cotton, who gave up a career-high 10 hits and six runs over 4 1/3 innings. Only three of the runs were earned, due to three A’s errors, including a bizarre two catchers’ interference calls on Stephen Vogt, both with former teammate Josh Reddick batting.

Nevertheless, Cotton gave up too much hard contact. Davis’ second homer, a solo shot to right in the third, put the A’s ahead 4-3, but the Astros would come back to tie it in the fourth and take the lead for good with two runs in the fifth to send them on their way.

Morton struck out a career-high 12 over seven innings. All told, the A’s whiffed a total of 14 times, giving them a staggering 57 strikeouts over the past five games alone. Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis and Yuli Gurriel all drove in two runs for the American League West-leading Astros.

Starting pitching report

Cotton (2-3) heaved 30 pitches in a three-run first that had to be frustrating for him. It included the first of two catchers’ interference calls with Reddick batting. Cotton also got called for a balk when the ball slipped out of his hands while he was on the mound. With two outs, Carlos Beltran beat out an RBI infield single to the left side. Then Gurriel singled home a run and Gattis lofted a fly ball down the right field line that landed just fair and went for a run-scoring ground rule double. Cotton was trying to keep it a tie game in the fifth when Gattis got to him for an RBI single past Adam Rosales at shortstop to put Houston ahead 5-4.

Bullpen report

Cesar Valdez gave up three runs over three innings, as the Astros padded their lead in the late going.

At the plate

Davis’ two homers gives the A’s 29 for the month of April, the most they’ve hit in April since 2006, when they had 34. But the strikeouts are a mounting problem, and the A’s need to start finding more consistent sources of offense.

In the field

Reddick hurt the A’s with two hits and reached base four times overall, as he became just the seventh player in major league history to reach twice in one game on catcher’s infernece. But he also made an outstanding catch in right to rob Ryon Healy with two aboard in the eighth.

Attendance

The announced turnout was 28,472.

Up next

Andrew Triggs (3-1, 2.42) will look to rebound from a shaky start against Seattle, and he’ll be opposed by Joe Musgrove (1-1, 5.91) in Saturday’s 4:10 p.m. game.