Jarrod Parker pitched went six innings and struck out six while limiting the Texas Rangers to two runs on six hits, and the Oakland Athletics’ bullpen took care of the rest as the A’s beat their divisional foe by a score of 4-2 on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the East bay.
A three-run first inning gave the A’s a lead they’d never relinquish, and the highlight came on a two-run homer by Yoenis Cespedes. The win increases Oakland’s lead over the Rangers in the AL West to 3 1/2 games. And like a lot of the A’s wins this year, it all started with the starting pitching, and Jarrod Parker earned his seventh win of the year with another strong outing.
Parker gave up a lead off double to Leonys Martin to start the game, but he followed it up with a strikeout, a groundout and another strikeout to get out of the jam, a feat he’d pull off routinely throughout the game.
Coco Crisp got on board with a bunt in the first at-bat for the A’s, perhaps sensing some urgency to produce some early offense after Oakland went through a tough stretch at the plate in the later innings of Friday night’s game. Next, Eric Sogard moved him over on a sacrifice bunt and Jed Lowrie dropped a line drive off the end of his bat into shallow left field, scoring Crisp from second to put the A’s ahead 1-0. It was a catchable ball for David Murphy, but his route to the ball got him there too late, and it went over his head to drop in for the RBI.
Cespedes then connected on a low slider, and it just cleared the wall in left-center, giving Oakand a 3-0 lead on Cespedes’ 17th home run of the year.
Parker got through the second unscathed but walked two in the third, and a two-out RBI single by Adrian Beltre made it 3-1. The right-hander gave up two-out singles in the fourth to Jurickson Profar and Mitch Moreland, but Martin struck out to end the threat, and Parker had stranded five Texas baserunners through four innings.
Ian Kinsler did touch him up for a solo shot in the fifth to bring the Rangers within a run at 3-2, and Matt Garza was doing his part on the mound as Oakland had only put two men on after their first inning outburst.
In the sixth, Brandon Moss got aboard on a ground rule double after Martin lost his pop fly in the sun at the wall in center field, but Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick each popped out to end the threat.
Sean Doolittle was brought in for Parker in the seventh, and aside from a single to Elvis Andrus, he was solid, striking out Kinsler to send it to the bottom half of the inning, where the A’s added an insurance run thanks to another mistake by a Texas outfielder.
Garza gave up a lead off walk to Alberto Callaspo, who was moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Stephen Vogt. Crisp then drove a line drive to Cruz in left, and with the sun in his eyes he couldn’t get a read on the ball off the bat, and it dropped in front of him to put men at first and third. Eric Sogard dropped in the A’s fourth bunt of the game, a beauty down the first base line that allowed Callaspo to score from third, and Oakland took a 4-2 lead into the eighth.
Ryan Cook put in another stellar performance in the setup role, shutting down the side to preserve the lead. After an uneventful turn at bat for the A’s, Grant Balfour was called upon to close it out, and he did so with authority, striking out Geovany Soto and Profar and getting A.J. Pierzynski to pop out to Sogard at short to end the game and earn his 29th save of the season.
Left-hander Derek Holland will pitch for Texas in Sunday’s series finale, with A.J. Griffin on the hill for Oakland. Game time is 1:05 PST.