ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers finally put a crooked number on the scoreboard and it proved the difference in Thursday afternoon's dramatic series-clinching 4-3 victory over the Oakland A's at Rangers Ballpark.
Texas improved to 41-32 after taking three of four games against the American League West-leading A's, who dropped to 43-32 after their fifth loss in the last seven games. Oakland's lead over the Rangers is down to one game.
Texas finished a 4-7 homestand on a high note going into the start of a six-game road trip on Friday at St. Louis. It's the first visit to St. Louis for Texas since the 2011 World Series, which the Cardinals won in seven games.
Down 3-2 in the seventh, the Rangers took their first lead of the game on Ian Kinsler's two-out, two-run single up the middle. Texas had loaded the bases before Kinsler squared up on a 3-2 pitch from reliever Sean Doolittle to bring Robinson Chirinos and A.J. Pierzynski home.
After scoring one run in three consecutive innings, the A's were blanked in the last two. Texas closer Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his 22nd save.
But it wasn't easy for Nathan. With two outs, Josh Donaldson singled to get the tying run aboard. Seth Smith lined a single to center that Craig Gentry played on a hop and it bounce away from the center fielder.
Gentry regrouped, fired the ball to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who rifled a bullet to Pierzynski. Donaldson tried to slide around the tag, but Pierzynski blocked the plate and preserved the win.
Neither of the starters -- Texas' Josh Lindblom or Oakland's A.J. Griffin -- figured in the decision. They matched zeroes through four innings, even if the scoring chances weren't quite the same. The A's had runners reach scoring position in each of the first four innings. Texas didn't have a runner reach second until the fourth.
Oakland was the first to break through in the fifth, taking a 1-0 lead. Jed Lowrie's single to center drove in John Jaso, who was on second after a one-out, bloop double to left.
Geovany Soto, making his first start since June 14, got the run back for Texas with a solo home run to center in the bottom of the fifth. It was the first home run for the backup catcher since May 17 and his third of the season.
The A's regained the lead in the sixth with a run, but the damage could have been worse. Oakland had the bases loaded with none out when Texas manager Ron Washington turned to his third reliever of the inning. Left-hander Robbie Ross got three straight out with two strikeouts sandwiched around an infield popup to squelch a potential disaster.
NOTES: Washington hadn't decided on Saturday's starter in St. Louis for the middle game of that series. Speculation is Martin Perez could be called up from Triple-A to take rookie Nick Tepesch's spot in the rotation. ... Oakland manager Bob Melvin has used 65 different lineups through 75 games this season. ... The A's are 1-3 on their seven-game road trip, with three games at Seattle coming up. Oakland is 21-20 on the road overall. ... Texas is in a stretch of 20 games in 20 days (6-11 during that span) until off day on Monday. ... Kinsler's stolen base in the seventh inning, the 161st of his career, tied Bump Wills for the franchise record.