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Cruz's two homers help Rangers end six-game skid

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington delivered a short-but-to-the-point speech behind closed doors Sunday after the Rangers dropped their sixth straight game.

The message was heard.

Nelson Cruz homered twice and Texas snapped its skid with Monday night's 8-7 comeback victory over the rival Oakland A's at Rangers Ballpark.

Cruz said the team took Washington's words to heart.

"He's a good speaker," Cruz said. "He always gives you the words to motivate you."

Not only did the Rangers end their longest losing skid in three years, Texas gained ground on first-place Oakland in the American League West. The Rangers (39-31) are two games back of the A's (42-30) after taking the opener of a four-game series both clubs dubbed important.

"It was huge," Cruz said of the win. "Everybody did their job. That's the team that we are."

Cruz, who was 3-for-4, led an offensive outburst for a team that last scored more than two runs on June 10 and had its most hits (12) this month. The right fielder drove in four runs and pushed his team-leading home run total to 18.

Washington saw his team revert back to the squad that's led the AL West for much of this season. That's the point he wanted to make.

"What it did is what happened," Washington said of the team meeting. "We got some hits in some RBI situations. We just kept grinding. The thing that happened tonight is they have the capability to do what they did. That's what I stressed."

Oakland, 3-4 against Texas this season, failed to hold a 6-3 lead in losing for the third time in the last four games. The second game in the series is Tuesday night.

"At the end of the day, we scored enough runs to win this game." A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Our at-bats were good. Usually with our pitching staff, you score that many runs, you win the game."

Nelson's big night at the plate, along with that of A.J. Pierzynski, enabled the Rangers to overcome another shoddy start from rookie Nick Tepesch. Texas' bullpen, however, was clutch, allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings. The A's scored that run in the ninth after loading the bases with one out, but Joe Nathan ended the rally there for his 21st save.

Oakland rallied from an early 3-0 deficit with six runs in the fourth off Tepesch. The first six batters reached on four hits, a fielder's choice and a walk to put the A's on top.

Brandon Moss, Seth Smith, Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp delivered run-scoring hits, with Eric Sogard bringing another run home on a sacrifice fly. Tepesch couldn't make it out of the inning, departing in favor of Neal Cotts after Crisp's two-out single.

Texas grabbed the lead back on a power display from Cruz, who homered in the fourth and fifth innings. Cruz pulled the Rangers within 6-4 with a solo shot to center in the fourth.

Oakland's lead was reduced to a run when Pierzynski picked up his third RBI of the night with a two-out double in the fifth to score Ian Kinsler. A's starter Dan Straily was then replaced by reliever Jesse Chavez.

"I was up in the zone," Straily said. "I stayed aggressive, they stayed aggressive and I just got beat."

Cruz followed with a towering bomb to center, giving Texas a 7-6 lead. Cruz's first multi-homer game of the season was the 10th of his career.

The Rangers had taken a 2-0 lead in the second on a pair of hard-hit balls to open the inning. Adrian Beltre lined a long single off the left-field wall before Pierzynski drilled a two-run shot halfway up the foul pole in right.

The Pierzynski blast gave the Rangers their first lead since the second inning last Thursday against Toronto. Texas had also gone a season-high three games and 139 at-bats between homers.

The lead grew to 3-0 on Kinsler's two-out single in the third that scored Martin, who opened the inning with a double.

NOTES: The Rangers had gone longer than any team in the majors between six-game losing streaks. Texas last had a six-game skid from April 15-21, 2010, before coming into the Oakland series with another. ... The Athletics are 21-11 (.656) against the AL West and 21-19 (.525) against everyone else. ... Texas came into the series 3.0 games back of Oakland, the Rangers' largest deficit in the West in more than three years. The Rangers were 3.5 games back on April 26, 2010. Oakland last led the division by more than 3.0 games when the A's finished 2006 with a four-game edge. ... Texas signed its 10th-round pick, pitcher Cole Wiper. The Rangers have now signed their top 13 selections in this year's draft.
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