The Texas Rangers are hoping they’ve finally put their slow start behind them.
They look to build on their first back-to-back wins of the season when they continue their three-game series with the slumping Oakland Athletics Saturday at McAfee Coliseum.
The Rangers beat the Athletics 6-3 on Friday, one game after ending a 1-6 slide and setting a new season-high for runs in Wednesday’s 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Friday’s victory came against Oakland starter Barry Zito, who lost to the Rangers (4-7) for just the third time in 25 career starts.
“You always want to beat guys who own you and Zito owns us,” catcher Rod Barajas said. “It’s nice to put another ‘L’ into that column. I hope we can put together more games like this.”
The Rangers activated left-hander C.J. Wilson from the 15-day disabled list Friday, and Mark DeRosa was back in the lineup after missing six games with a strained left leg. However, outfielder Kevin Mench did not play after receiving a cortisone shot for a right toe sprain.
Frank Thomas hit his 450th career homer for the A’s (5-6), who have lost four straight after a three-game winning streak. Milton Bradley added a ninth-inning home run for Oakland, and Dan Johnson ended an 0-for-27 start with a broken-bat RBI single.
“I feel a thousand pounds lighter,” said Johnson, who tied an Oakland record for the worst start to a season, matching Joe Wallis in 1979. “It didn’t matter what it was, just as long as it hit the ground and I was safely on base.”
Rich Harden will look to end Oakland’s losing streak Saturday. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up just one earned run and three hits in seven innings of Sunday’s 6-4 win over Seattle.
Harden is 4-2 with a 3.27 ERA in nine career appearances, including eight starts, against the Rangers. He faces Vicente Padilla, who has won both of his first two starts of the season while compiling a 3.00 ERA.
“Rich has pitched very well for us,” manager Ken Macha said. “I’m excited about him pitching. Padilla pitched very well in Philadelphia, I’m looking for a low-scoring game.”
Padilla allowed three earned runs and seven hits in six innings of Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. The 28-year-old right-hander wasn’t quite as effective as in his season debut on April 4, when he gave up just one earned run in six innings against Boston, but still managed to help the Rangers avoid a sweep and a five-game losing streak.
“This is exactly what we need, a guy who’s going to keep you in the game even when he doesn’t have his best stuff,” catcher Gerald Laird said.
Padilla was acquired from Philadelphia in the offseason for Ricardo Rodriguez, who has since been released. He has made two career relief appearances against the A’s, allowing three earned runs in 1 1-3 innings of work. Both of those outings came in 2000 with Arizona.