Right-hander Sean Murphy, who has never pitched above Double-A ball, pitched 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing only a bunt single, but the Oakland Athletics relief corps didn’t fare as well in a 6-2 Cactus League loss to the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on Monday.
Murphy, 25, got the start for the A’s (12-12), who played several non-roster players as the final week of the exhibition season opened.
With Oakland leading 1-0, the Rangers bats broke through in the sixth. Deryk Hooker (1-2) loaded the bases to start the inning with a pair of walks and a bunt single by Kensuke Tanaka. Lefty Joe Savery entered the game at that point and struck out Josh Wilson for the first out, but Prince Fielder hit into a force play up the middle, scoring Leonys Martin to tie the game at 1-1.
After a walk reloaded the bases, Alex Rios beat out an infield single to third that gave Texas (8-15) a 2-1 lead. Mitch Moreland followed with a soft liner to center that scored two and Robinson Chirinos singled to the hole at shortstop, allowing Rios to score to put the Rangers up 5-1.
The A’s opened the scoring in the fifth against reliever Aaron Poreda after Ryan Feierabend threw four scoreless frames. Jake Elmore led off with a walk, moved up to second on a balk by Poreda and scored when John Jaso’s rocket to shortstop deflected off Wilson for a base hit.
The only hit Murphy surrendered came when Chirinos beat out a bunt single to third to lead off the third innings. He also walked a batter and fanned two. Hooker allowed three runs on a hit and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, Savery was tagged for two runs on three hits and a walk in an inning of work, striking out one, and Humber surrendered a run on a hit and a walk in his inning. Left-hander Jeff Urlaub gave up a hit and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless eighth.
Offensively, Alberto Callaspo started at first base and was 3-for-3 and also recorded an unassisted double play, raising his spring average to .349. Oakland had eight hits on the day.
The A’s are back at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Tuesday to host the Cincinnati Reds at 1:05 p.m. Pacific.