ARLINGTON — When the ball caromed away from Texas Rangers center fielder Craig Gentry, he quickly recovered to get it and throw to shortstop Elvis Andrus. The game was over after a perfect relay to the plate.
Oakland’s Josh Donaldson was tagged out by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, preserving the Rangers’ series-clinching 4-3 victory over the AL West-leading Athletics on Thursday.
Donaldson, who reached on a two-out single off closer Joe Nathan, was trying to score from first on Seth Smith’s fast-sinking ball that that short-hopped the charging Gentry.
“Little did we know, fortunately, that ended up being a blessing,” Nathan said.
“I was hoping that Gentry had enough foot speed to catch it, but it sunk on him, but he kept it almost in front of him, not too far,” manager Ron Washington said. “If he didn’t hit Elvis with the relay perfectly, I don’t think we would have been able to pull that play off.”
Ian Kinsler put the Rangers ahead for the first time with his two-out single in the seventh.
Texas pulled within a game of the Athletics by winning three times in the four-game set. The division’s top two teams don’t play again until the first weekend of August.
“Any win right now is special, especially against a good team like the A’s, especially to win the series,” Andrus said. “They’re really aggressive on the bases. ... I just want to get the ball quick, so I can make a throw and make that guy stop.”
Kinsler came to the plate in the seventh right after Leonys Martin’s hustling infield single, getting to first base ahead of Sean Doolittle (3-2) when the pitcher was taking the toss from first baseman Brandon Moss. That loaded the bases with two outs, and Kinsler hit a full-count pitch through the middle of the infield.
Donaldson and Smith singled in the ninth after Nathan struck out the first two hitters.
When Donaldson saw the ball get away from Gentry, who replaced Martin defensively in center to start the ninth. Donaldson never slowed down rounding third base even as coach Mike Gallego signaled him to stop after initially waving him home.
“As soon as I saw it hit his chest, I was gone,” Donaldson said. “It took a perfect throw to get me. It sucks to lose a game that way, but you take that chance.
“It was frustrating because it was the worst outcome we could have had.”
Tanner Scheppers (5-0), the fourth reliever after starter Josh Lindblom, worked 1 2-3 scoreless innings before Nathan struck out two in the ninth and got his 22nd save in 23 chances.
Oakland, which went from a seven-game deficit in mid-May to starting this series with a season-high three-game division lead, lost for the fifth time in seven games.
“That was as frustrating as any loss we’ve had,” manager Bob Melvin said. “They played hard on every single pitch and every single out, but it seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong.”
Texas finished 4-7 on its season-long 11-game homestand.
David Murphy led off the Texas seventh with a double, but was thrown out at third after Robinson Chirinos’ bunt back to pitcher Ryan Cook, who was then relieved by Doolittle. Pierzynski had a pinch-hit single and Jurickson Profar a foul popout before Martin kept the inning alive.
The A’s went up 3-2 in the top of the seventh when Jed Lowrie had a leadoff single and eventually scored on an error by Andrus, who went to his right to make a nice grab on Donaldson’s grounder. Andrus threw to third, but the ball ricocheted off the leg of the sliding Lowrie, who then got up and ran home.
That was all the A’s got in the seventh, when they left the bases loaded for the second inning in a row. They left 13 runners on base.
Oakland went ahead 2-1 in the sixth when pinch-hitter Chris Young drew a bases-loaded walk. Robbie Ross, the fourth pitcher in the inning, then came on and got three straight outs.
Lowrie was in a 7-for-48 slide before three hits Thursday. He had an RBI single in the fifth, but grounded into a double play to end the eighth.
Geovany Soto, catching until Pierzynski hit for him in the seventh, led off the Rangers fifth with a tying solo homer to straightaway center. It looked like Coco Crisp had a chance to make a homer-stealing grab, but ran into the 8-foot wall about the same time he was reaching up to try to make the catch.
Andrus had a sacrifice fly for Texas in the sixth.
GC Baseball: Kerens beats Cayuga 5-1, wins first district title since 1981
The wait is over.
And it came just in time for Brett Anderson, who left it all on the mound Tuesday night at Kerens, where he pitched a masterpiece to lead the Bobcats over Cayuga, 5-1, and help the program win its first baseball district title since 1981.
“I've got no gas left. I'm out,'' said Anderson, a senior lefty who stopped Cayuga cold, holding the three-time defending district champs to just three singles while striking out 14.
GC Basebal Roundup: Corsicana blasts Jacksonville; BG wins huge district game
The Corsicana Tigers wrapped up district play with a dominating 9-0 win over the Jacksonville Indians behind Trevor Nolen, who shut out the Indians and allowed only one hit over 6 1/3 innings. Donovan Fields came on to retire the final two hitters. The Tiger pitchers limited the Indians to only 25 plate appearances in the game and no runner to reach third base.
Rodeo: Navarro County Derrick Days -- Burton is back
Professional rodeo entertainer Ronald Burton returns to the Navarro County Exposition Center April 25-26 to entertain the crowd at the 2014 Navarro County Derrick Days Pro Rodeo.
Huggins to call shots at Derrick Days Rodeo
West Huggins will serve as the announcer for the 2014 Navarro County Derrick Days Pro rodeo. The Gardendale native is the reigning three-time United Professional Rodeo Association Announcer of the Year.
Dill gets 300th win in Navarro baseball sweep of Bossier Parish
Navarro baseball’s weekend in Louisiana was significant on a number of fronts. On one hand, coach Whoa Dill notched his 300th win. On the other, and perhaps more importantly, the Bulldogs simply continued to play well. The Bulldogs swept Bossier Parish to move 14-11 in Region XIV East Zone play, and 27-17 overall.
Mildred sending five to regional track meet
Sasha Ballard set a school record in the 800 meters and paced a contingent of five Mildred thinclads heading to Stephenville for the regionals later this week.
Kerens boys grab four gold medals at area track meet
Tavion Hall and Jalon Moss each snared a pair of gold medals as Kerens boys finished second at their area track meet last week with 88 points.
Area schedule for the week
Here's a look at this week's schedule for Golden Ciircle teams and Navarro College. The schedule does not include upcoming bi-district playoff games in softball because times and sites have yet to be determined.
GC Baseball/Softball: Blooming Grove sweeps Rice in baseball and softball
Blooming Grove's Lions needed this one.
Heck, they need all of them.
That's where they're living today on the Blooming Grove diamond, where everyone knew going into Friday's game with Rice that the Lions need to win their final three games to have a chance of nailing down the final playoff spot in District 23-2A.
One down, two to go.
“It's in our hands,'' said Blooming Grove Coach Matt Anderson moments after his kids beat Rice 8-0 Friday night. “As long as we take care of our business we'll be fine.''
GC Softball/Baseball Roundup: Frost girls win district title
Frost's Lady Polar Bears needed to win to nail down the district title and they never trailed, jumping out to a 7-0 lead en route to an 11-7 clinching victory over Itasca Friday on the road. They wrapped up their second district title in a row with a 9-1 record and enter the playoffs next week at 13-1.
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- GC Baseball: Kerens beats Cayuga 5-1, wins first district title since 1981