OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Kenny Rogers thinks his 18-game winning streak at the Coliseum is just one of those inexplicable baseball quirks.
There’s no mystery to the Texas Rangers’ surge to the top of the AL West: a powerful lineup, Rogers’ pitching and a confidence that grows with every win over their rivals.
Rogers joined Mulder as the majors’ only 13-game winners with another victory in Oakland, though he had plenty of help.
Rogers (13-3), who allowed six hits and three runs in 5 2-3 innings, hasn’t lost in 35 starts in Oakland since Aug. 7, 1994.
Though Rogers wasn’t perfect, his teammates’ run support kept him out of trouble—even against Mulder, who had won five straight starts.
“I don’t think these guys care who’s on the mound against them,” Rogers said. “I think they know I’m going to give them a pretty good chance to win. They were the ones who did it tonight, and doing this against Mark Mulder, that’s a pretty special thing.”
Eric Young added a two-run double for the Rangers, who increased their division lead over Oakland to 4 1/2 games in the opener of a key three-game series.
Texas pounded Mulder (13-3), the winning pitcher in the All-Star game, for 10 hits and seven runs over six innings in his first loss in 15 starts since April 28. The left-hander fell two wins short of Catfish Hunter’s franchise record for consecutive victories.
“Our guys grinded it, but you’ve got to feel real fortunate when you score that many runs off him,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “We got a little behind, but that rally was great. You usually end up on the wrong end of something like that when you fall behind Mulder.”
Mulder never appeared to be in top form while losing to Texas at home for the first time in seven career starts. He lost control in the sixth, when Texas sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored five runs.
“I didn’t have good stuff tonight, and you can’t rely on off-speed pitches all the time,” Mulder said. “There have been other times I didn’t have my fastball, but it was more obvious tonight. We know it’s a big series, but we’re not stressing over it. It would have been nice if I pitched better and got a win out of it.”
Michael Young started the sixth-inning rally with a single, eventually scoring on Hank Blalock’s base hit after Brian Jordan hit a two-out, 0-2 pitch for a single. Jordan, activated from the disabled list before the game, went 1-for-5.
“That’s pretty good hitting there,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “It was a tight game at that point, and I thought we were going to be in for a barn-burner. Five straight hits, and it unraveled.”
Gary Matthews drove in another run, and Mench followed with his 14th homer.
Eric Byrnes homered and drove in three runs for the A’s, who lost their third straight and fifth of seven. Oakland kicked off a six-game homestand with just its sixth loss in 30 home games.
Byrnes snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a two-run homer in the third. He added a sacrifice fly in the fifth, scoring Marco Scutaro to give Oakland a 3-2 lead.
Jordan had been out since May 25 with a knee injury, but his teammates were thrilled by his return.
“There’s no longer a feeling of hoping we win,” Jordan said. “We’re supposed to win. When you get that feeling, a lot of good things happen. … It was huge to give a lift to my teammates. Everybody here is pulling for Brian Jordan.”
A’s OF Jermaine Dye got his 1,000th career hit with a third-inning single. … Rogers, a former A’s pitcher, also made one relief appearance during his unbeaten streak. … A’s RHP Tim Hudson will throw 30 pitches in the bullpen Saturday as he recovers from a strained left oblique muscle. He’ll throw a simulated game Monday and another bullpen session Wednesday, with tentative plans to make a rehab start in Sacramento on July 31. Hudson has been out since June 23. … The Rangers made several roster moves, activating C Gerald Laird and recalling RHP Rosman Garcia from Triple-A Oklahoma. C Danny Ardoin and OF Chad Allen were designated for assignment.