Athletics 6, Rangers 2

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—R.A. Dickey found out in a hurry back in college that Mark Kotsay is a capable hitter.

The Texas starter received another reminder Saturday.

Kotsay homered twice, and the Oakland Athletics stopped a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the Rangers.

Kotsay connected for a two-run homer in the third and a solo shot in the fifth, sending both over the right-field wall and giving him seven home runs this season. It was his second career multihomer game and first since Sept. 22, 2002, against Los Angeles while with San Diego.

“Even in college he beat me up—when he was at Fullerton and I was at Tennessee,” said Dickey, teammates with Kotsay on the 1996 Olympic team. “He sees the ball well off me. He’s comfortable in the box against me. There’s no hiding that. I have to find a way to make him uncomfortable.”

Eric Chavez also homered for Oakland, a two-run shot in the seventh. He has two home runs since returning July 9 after missing more than a month with a broken right hand.

Kirk Saarloos (2-1) pitched five strong innings for the A’s, who pulled within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Rangers in the AL West. Justin Duchscherer, Jim Mecir and Octavio Dotel combined to pitch four scoreless innings of relief.

In the ninth, third base umpire Bruce Dreckman approached the mound and examined Dotel’s glove, removing a reflective sticker. Moments later, Texas third base coach Steve Smith started hollering at A’s manager Ken Macha and the Oakland dugout. Many of the Rangers then came out of their dugout.

Texas manager Buck Showalter hustled onto the field and calmed Smith down.

Smith said afterward he saw something shining on Dotel’s glove and asked Dreckman to look into it.

Smith thought Macha was angry with him.

“I guess he wasn’t, so I walked back,” Smith said.” It’s over. That’s it. We don’t have a history.”

Macha declined comment, as did the umpires.

Dotel laughed about the silliness of it all.

“He might have been trying to get me out of the game, but it doesn’t matter,” Dotel said, noting the sticker had been on his glove for 10 days. “It made me more excited.”

Kotsay has shown drastic improvement at the plate recently.

He went 3-for-5 and is batting .370 in July (30-for-81). He hit .256 in April, .308 in May and .340 in June.

When general manager Billy Beane traded for Kotsay in November, Beane said the outfielder would be an upgrade both offensively and defensively, and that has held true.

“I’m not a power guy,” he said. “I’m just up there trying to go gap to gap. Obviously, I feel like I’m playing good baseball. It’s fun—a fun environment. This is the first time after the All-Star break I’ve been on a team that’s in it.”

Mark Teixeira answered Kotsay’s first homer with his 23rd home run of the year in the fourth, hitting a 2-2 pitch from Saarloos just inside the foul pole in right for a solo shot to pull Texas to 2-1.

The A’s made it 3-1 in the fourth on Eric Byrnes’ sacrifice fly after loading the bases against Dickey (5-7).

Alfonso Soriano added a fifth-inning sacrifice fly for the Rangers, who struggled to take advantage of their chances a day after they pounded 12 hits and beat Mark Mulder.

Saarloos allowed two runs, three hits and five walks in his fourth start of the season. He is making a name for himself with this club, though he likely will return to Triple-A Sacramento once ace Tim Hudson returns from a strained left stomach muscle.

“I’m not really trying to make a case,” Saarloos said. “What I’ve always said is you have to make outs. It’s not in my hands. It’s out of my control. If they want to keep me around, awesome.”

He loaded the bases with three walks in the first, but got Laynce Nix to strike out to escape the inning unscathed. Then in the second, Saarloos allowed Gary Matthews to reach third on a sacrifice bunt following his leadoff double. But the right-hander walked David Dellucci and then got him to ground into an inning-ending double play.

After Kotsay’s leadoff single in the first, Dickey retired the next seven A’s batters before Adam Melhuse’s double in the third. Dickey, 0-4 in five career outings against Oakland, gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Notes

Injured A’s ace Tim Hudson threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session, all fastballs. He is to pitch in a simulated game Monday, throw another bullpen session Wednesday and probably make a rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento on July 31. … Kotsay’s first six homers this year gave the A’s the lead. … Byrnes’ 17 career RBIs against Texas are his most against any opponent. … The Rangers threw out Jermaine Dye at the plate on Scott Hatteberg’s double to center in the fifth, an impressive 8-6-2 relay to save a run.

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