OAKLAND -- It seems the Oakland Athletics are attempting to retract their statement series.
After splitting four road games with the mighty Los Angeles Angels earlier this week, the once-surging A's have digressed at home against the lowly Texas Rangers, losing 6-3 Saturday and needing a win today to avoid a three-game sweep.
A.J. Murray made the most of his chance in the Texas starting rotation, allowing two earned runs in 5ª innings a day after being called up from the minors, and David Murphy hit a three-run homer and Chris Shelton added a solo shot for the Rangers. Texas has won four in a row and six of eight following a seven-game losing streak that raised questions about the job stability of manager Ron Washington.
Oakland fell one-game behind Los Angeles in the AL West race.
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"I'm glad I could go out there and help the team get another win and keep this winning streak going," Murray said.
Team president Nolan Ryan said last week he wanted to see how the players responded to the adversity of a bad start before making a decision about Washington's future. The early results are positive.
"I'm not counting," said Washington, a former A's third-base coach, of the season-long winning streak. "I just want us to keep playing good baseball. If we keep playing good baseball we'll be in games. That's all I want. We're OK."
Staked to a 3-0 lead before stepping on the mound behind Murphy's first-inning homer against Chad Gaudin (3-2), Murray pitched confidently with his newly discovered two-seam fastball and challenged the A's hitters. He held Oakland scoreless until Mike Sweeney's two-run double in the fifth cut Texas' lead to 5-2.
The A's added an unearned run in the sixth when left fielder Brandon Boggs dropped Emil Brown's liner for a two-base error and Bobby Crosby hit a one-out RBI single that ended Murray's night.
"He was locating perfectly on the outside part of the plate," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He wasn't overpowering as far as his velocity. It was obviously his command."
Gaudin gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings. He got into a hole in the first inning after Milton Bradley fought back from an 0-2 count to work a two-out walk. Murphy followed with his third home run of the season.
"Milton had given me a tough at-bat before that and I wanted to make sure to come at Murphy," Gaudin said. "I made a bad pitch and he hit it. It was just a rough night."