ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Robbie Grossman scored the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch in the seventh inning and the Texas Rangers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.
Grossman drew the first of three consecutive two-out walks against Lucas Erceg (3-4). Reliever Francisco Perez took over and uncorked a wild pitch when facing pinch-hitter Jonathan Ornelas in his first major league at-bat. Ornelas had an inning-ending flyout.
“For these guys, I’m sure it’s a sense of relief,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “When you get in a rut like this you take it any way you can.”
The Rangers (77-64) won for only the fifth time in their last 21 games, a span when they have gone from a 3 1/2-game lead to third place in the AL West and also 1 1/2 games back of the American League’s third and final wild-card spot.
Nathaniel Lowe and Leody Taveras had RBI singles to give Texas a 2-0 lead in the sixth, when Grossman also walked and scored. But last-place Oakland (44-98) got even in the top of the seventh on Zack Gelof’s two run homer.
“We did have a couple of big hits,” Bochy said.
Will Smith (2-5), the fourth Texas pitcher, worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Aroldis Chapman worked around two walks in the ninth for his fifth save.
All-Star right-hander Nathan Eovaldi started again for the Rangers, four days after his return from the injured list. He was on limited pitches again, and was done with one out in the third inning after giving up his second consecutive single on with one out in the third inning.
Eovaldi struck out three, walked two and gave up three his over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He threw 27 of 47 pitches for strikes after Bochy said before the game that he would be limited to 45-50 pitches.
“I felt good, but it’s one thing to do it in the bullpen,” Eovaldi said. “You have to transition yourself back to the game. I have to get back to the normal five-day routine.”
Added Bochy, “You could tell he’s getting more and more comfortable.”
A’s starter Sean Newcomb threw four scoreless innings.
The 6-foot-5 lefty struck out five and walked two.
Martín Pérez walked the first batter he faced to load the bases after relieving Eovaldi, but pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings overall. Pérez, an All-Star last season, was a started through the end of July before being moved to the bullpen after the trade deadline acquisitions of starters Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery,
Eovaldi had missed seven weeks because of a right forearm strain before being reinstated from the IL to pitch Wednesday against Houston without going on a rehab assignment. Eovaldi threw only 35 pitches then, allowing five hits and four runs over 1 1/3 innings, and was pulled after Jose Altuve homered against him for the second time.
That was Eovaldi’s first start since two-hit ball over six scoreless innings against Tampa Bay on July 18, when he was tied for the AL lead with 11 wins. Before that, Eovaldi hadn’t started for Texas since July 6, but threw a scoreless inning in relief in the All-Star Game the week after that.
The Rangers extended their club-record streak to 21 games in a row since one of their starting pitchers got a victory, coinciding with the team’s big slide. The starters are 0-8 in that span since Montgomery won August 15 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Athletics: Shea Langeliers remained in the game after the catcher got hit by a pitch on his right hand when batting in the sixth inning. … Manager Mark Kotsay said OF JJ Bleday, on the injured list since Aug. 14 with a sprained left knee, was running again and could take batting practice by the middle of next week.
Right-hander Jon Gray (8-7, 3.85 ERA), who got an extra day of rest with Eovaldi’s going Saturday, starts the series finale for the Rangers. Rookie right-hander Luis Medina (3-8, 5.46) pitches for the A’s.
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