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Cruz stars with bat, glove as Rangers beats A's

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz hit his team-leading 10th home run of the season Wednesday, a three-run blast in the fifth inning in a 6-2 victory over the Oakland A's at the O.co Coliseum.

But after the game, Cruz spent almost all of his time talking defense.

Cruz made a highlight-reel catch in the bottom of the sixth inning that almost certainly saved two runs and stopped what could have been an even bigger inning.

With one run in and runners on first and second with two outs, A's right fielder Brandon Moss sent a drive to right center off Rangers starter Alexi Ogando that appeared headed to the wall. But Cruz ranged far to his right and made a diving catch, ending the inning and preserving the Rangers' 6-1 lead.

"It was a great catch and a great moment," Cruz said. "It looked like they're coming back."

Instead, the Rangers escaped with a five-run lead and cruised to their second straight win over the A's, capturing two of three in the series.

"That was about the biggest (catch) that he's made in a long time because if that ball gets by him, no telling what that game will end up being," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That was a grand play. We needed it right there. Ogando needed it right there. The team needed it right there, and he made it. And it saved the game for us."

Ogando got the win, allowing two runs on four hits over six innings. He improved to 4-2, winning his first career start at the Coliseum. Ogando held the A's without a run or hit over the first five innings.

Ogando allowed a leadoff double in the sixth to Eric Sogard, who scored on Derek Norris' sacrifice fly. After Ogando allowed back-to-back singles to Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes, Washington paid him a visit on the mound, with Moss up next.

"I had to let Ogando know that he'd come too far and done too much right now to let this blow up in his face," Washington said. "Just throw the ball across the plate and let the defense make a play behind you. And I'll be darned, Cruz made one."

A's right-hander Dan Straily had another rough outing, allowing four earned runs on four hits and lasting just 4.1 innings. Straily walked four, hit two batters, threw a wild pitch and struggled to throw strikes throughout his brief outing. He threw 87 pitches but only 47 for strikes.

"I don't really know what happened," Straily said. "Can't really explain it. Definitely it was not a lack of focus, it wasn't a lack of anything. I was just missing spots and at least I was missing down instead of up and over the plate.

"Just not being consistent whatsoever," he said of his recent struggles. "That's really what's been hurting me and hurting the team. So I just need to go out there and pitch like I'm capable of and that's not what I've been doing."

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the third and made it 6-0 in the fifth. With two outs in the third, Leonys Martin singled and stole second. After Straily hit Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus to load the base, Lance Berkman lined a two-run, broken-bat single to center.

With one out in the fifth, Andrus reached on a throwing error by A's shortstop Jed Lowrie. He stole second then, after Berkman walked, stole third. Beltre brought Andrus home with a single to center that ended Straily's day.

Cruz belted reliever Jesse Chavez' first pitch over the left-center wall for a three-run home run, blasting a cutter that didn't cut.

"I'm an aggressive hitter," Cruz said. "I'm not going to change my approach. I looked for a pitch to drive."

Moments later, he looked for a drive to catch.

"That's huge," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Cruz' catch. "That's a momentum changer. That ball gets in the gap and it's maybe two more and now you're looking at a completely different ballgame."

NOTES: A's left-hander Brett Anderson still has soreness in his sprained right ankle, and a date for his next start is still unknown, Melvin said. "Brett won't pitch tomorrow and maybe not in the foreseeable future. We're just not past the soreness that he's getting." Anderson has been on the disabled list since May 1. ... A's outfielder Chris Young (strained left quad) remained on the disabled list Wednesday, the first day he was eligible to be activated. He'll likely play a rehab game at Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday and "hopefully" be activated Friday, Melvin said. ... A's center fielder Coco Crisp (strained left hamstring) was activated from the disabled list and started against Texas. The A's cleared a roster spot for Crisp late Tuesday night by sending outfielder Michael Taylor to Triple-A Sacramento. ... The Rangers signed former Toronto right-hander Scott Richmond to a minor-league contract and assigned him to extended spring training. Richmond, 33, pitched earlier this year for the Lotte Giants in the Korean Professional League. ... Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski (strained right oblique muscle) said he expects to play a rehab game Sunday for Double-A Frisco and hopes to be in the starting lineup for Texas on Tuesday, the first day he's eligible to come off the disabled list. Rangers manager Ron Washington, however, said he wants to see how Pierzynski handles live batting practice Thursday before scheduling a rehab assignment. ... A's catcher John Jaso was hit on his right shin by an Ogando pitch in the fourth inning and left the game during the top of the fifth. Melvin said he expects him to be ready to play Friday after the A's off day.
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