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Rangers back in first with win over A's

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers apparently didn't like sharing first place with the Oakland A's.

Just one day after suffering a 4-2 loss to Oakland and falling into a first-place tie in the American League West, the Rangers bounced back Tuesday night for a 5-1 victory and regained sole possession.

Mitch Moreland and Alex Rios hit solo home runs for the Rangers, and left-hander Martin Perez pitched another gem, winning his sixth straight start, an ongoing franchise record for rookies.

The Rangers had owned sole possession of first place for 23 straight days before losing the opener of their three-game series to the A's on Monday afternoon.

Perez (9-3) held the A's to one run on eight hits over seven innings. He struck out five, walked none and threw 95 pitches, 60 for strikes, in his first start of the season against Oakland. Last year, he went 1-2 with a 9.90 ERA in three starts vs. the A's. Both losses came down the stretch, when the A's roared back to catch then pass the Rangers on the final day of the regular season to win the West.

"He's growing in front of our eyes," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Just watch it and enjoy it."

With 24 games left to play, the Rangers (80-58) own a one-game lead over the A's (79-59).

"Toward the end of the season right here, it's probably going to go a little bit back and forth, and hopefully we'll end up on top at the end of the season," said A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, who made a spectacular diving catch in the sixth in foul territory to retire David Murphy, going over the tarp and slamming into the wall.

The Rangers pounded out 13 hits, including two apiece by Rios, Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Craig Gentry and Jurickson Profar. Moreland and Profar each had a double. That was more than enough offensive support for Perez.

"I just tried to attack the zone and throw strikes," Perez said. "After the second inning, I started throwing in because I saw a couple guys looking for a fastball away and for my changeup. So I said, 'OK, let me throw in,' because I'm not going to give too much credit to the hitters. If they're going to swing at something outside, I just want to pound inside. That's what I did tonight."

A's right-hander Bartolo Colon (14-6), who entered the game with a career mark of 19-7 against the Rangers, gave up four runs -- just one earned -- and eight hits over five innings, taking the loss. With 19 wins, he remained in a four-way tie for the most by any pitcher against the Rangers.

"It's not like they knocked him around," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Quite a few bloop hits. He gave up the one home run."

The Rangers took a 4-1 lead in the fifth, scoring three times off Colon. With one out, Craig Gentry hit a hard one-hopper that bounced in and out of Colon's glove for an error. Profar then ripped an RBI double off the right-field wall. The ball hit the fence and took a sharp-angled bounce toward center, past rookie right fielder Michael Choice, and the speedy Gentry scored easily.

Kinsler singled sharply off Colon's glove, moving Profar to third. The deflection hit Colon in his pitching hand. After being checked by trainers, he stayed in the game. Profar scored on Adrian Beltre's ground out to third, and A.J. Pierzynski blooped an RBI single to center.

The A's grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Coco Crisp lined a leadoff double, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Jed Lowrie's sacrifice fly. Crisp left Monday's game after fouling a pitch off his right shin in the sixth inning, and Melvin used him as a designated hitter instead of a center fielder Tuesday. However, Crisp looked as fast as ever motoring around the bases.

"After the leadoff double, he was lights out," Pierzynski said of Perez. "He had all the pitches going, he had a great changeup tonight, which has always been his pitch, but he really located his fastball well, and he also was able to throw two different types of breaking balls for strikes, which I think really kept them off balance."

Texas pulled even in the fourth on Moreland's 22nd home run of the season, an ongoing career high. He sent Colon's 1-1 pitch high and deep over the right-field fence.

NOTES: Rangers SS Elvis Andrus (back spasms) was out of the lineup for the third straight day but said he was making good progress in his recovery. He ran and took batting practice hours before the game. ... The Rangers activated RHP Alexi Ogando (right shoulder inflammation) from the disabled list. ... With Tuesday's start, Pierzynski tied the major league record of 13 consecutive seasons with 100 or more games caught. Pierzynski matched the mark set by Bill Dickey (1929-41), Johnny Bench (1968-80) and Brad Ausmus (1995-2007). ... A's LHP Tommy Milone was recalled from Class A Stockton, while RHP Evan Scribner was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento. Oakland purchased the contract of RHP Pat Neshek from Sacramento. To make room for Neshek on the 40-man roster, LHP Hideki Okajima was designated for assignment. ... A's C Derek Norris (fractured left big toe) rejoined the team in Oakland after three rehab games with Sacramento but is not eligible to come off the disabled list until Thursday. "Everything went fine," Norris said. "No complications. It will be a tolerable annoyance for a while." ... A's 1B/OF Brandon Moss was named the American League Player of the Week. He batted .364 with four homers, 11 RBIs, four walks and eight runs last week.
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