Rangers 5, Athletics 3
Young’s three-run shot was a tiebreaker, pushing Texas to a 5-3 win over the Athletics on Wednesday night and three games back of the AL West leaders.
“E-Y’s timing couldn’t have been better,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He told us he’d been saving one.”
Young connected with two outs in the fourth off Barry Zito (11-11) for a 5-2 lead.
That was in his 305th at-bat—the most this season by any player in the majors without a homer. It was his 95th game, his fifth straight start at second base in place of injured Alfonso Soriano.
“He said he’s going to get one. The importance of that one was huge,” catcher Rod Barajas said.
“I’ve definitely been saving one for a lot of my teammates. They’ve been ragging me all year,” Young said. “It was just good to come at a good time for the team.”
Kenny Rogers matched a career high with his 17th win for the Rangers, who will try to complete a three-game sweep Thursday in their last meeting against the Athletics.
“Two out of three is nice, but now that we’ve got the chance, we really need to win to make the first two days worth it,” Rogers said.
The Rangers have 10 games left after that, six against Seattle and four at home against Anaheim, which remained 2 1/2 games back of Oakland.
“We’ve been leading, but the Rangers haven’t died off,” center fielder Mark Kotsay said. “They still have an opportunity. We knew we’d be beating each other up in the division and it’s come true.”
Texas has won nine of its last 12 games, with four wins against the Athletics in that span. The teams split four games in Oakland last week.
Rogers (17-8) was pulled after giving up a walk and single to start the sixth, but allowed just three runs and matched the 17 wins he had for Texas in 1995.
The 39-year-old left-hander returned this season for his third Rangers stint. Rogers has spent 11 of his 16 major league seasons with the team that drafted him in the 39th round in 1982.
Francisco Cordero put runners on first and second with one out in the ninth before extending his team record with his 47th save in 51 chances. A quartet of relievers combined for three scoreless innings before that.
Zito lost for the first time in 11 career starts in Texas, and to the Rangers for only the second time—both this season. He is still 13-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 21 career starts against the Rangers.
The left-hander gave up five runs on seven hits and four walks while throwing 117 pitches in five innings.
In the same inning that Young homered, Zito got three of his six strikeouts. The called third strike against Michael Young that ended the fourth was his 100th pitch.
Eric Young hit a first-pitch changeup, sending it over the 14-foot wall in left field.
“That’s a fluke. It’s not going to happen again,” Zito said. “It was down below his knees. He was either sitting on it or it hit his bat.”
Oakland had tied the game 2-all in the third when No. 9 hitter Marco Scutaro had an RBI triple and Kotsay followed with a double. Bobby Crosby’s sacrifice fly in the sixth, the first batter after Rogers left, made it 5-3.
Kotsay was 3-for-5, his sixth multihit game in a nine-game hitting streak.
The Rangers started the series Tuesday with a three-run first and went on to win 9-4, beating Mark Mulder for the third time this season. Tim Hudson (12-5) pitches Thursday for Oakland against Chan Ho Park (3-6).
Eric Young’s last homer was Aug. 14, 2003, for Milwaukee against Philadelphia—a span of 382 at-bats over 123 games. … Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young winner, has allowed career highs in hits (205), runs (109) and home runs (26). … Rangers relievers Frank Francisco, Doug Brocail and Carlos Almanzar dropped their appeals of suspensions that stemmed from the altercation with fans in Oakland last week. Each suspension was reduced by a game.
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