A’s get off to slow start and fall to Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – There was no rain to wash away this bad outing in Texas for Gio Gonzalez, Oakland’s only All-Star.
This time, the Rangers’ slam against the left-hander counts.
Mike Napoli hit a grand slam in the first, one of three homers off Gonzalez over four innings, and the AL West-leading Rangers beat the Athletics 8-5 on Friday night as Texas extended its winning streak to five games.
Gonzalez entered the night with a 4-1 record and 2.18 ERA in nine career appearances against the Rangers.
But he caught a break in his previous start at Texas on May 11 when he gave up seven runs in 2 2-3 innings of a game postponed by heavy rain.
Mitch Moreland had a grand-slam in the rainout, and after that game Gonzalez commented on his good fortune, saying he was “buying lottery tickets. I guess it was a live session of BP.”
Once again, Gonzalez had few answers for a slugging Rangers lineup that has outscored opponents 44-16 during the five-game winning streak. He had his shortest outing of the season, giving up seven runs – only three earned – and seven hits.
Gonzalez (8-6) consistently fell behind hitters, and he had to throw fastballs when he didn’t want to.
“In situations where I had to go after them, I had to pitch in their count,” Gonzalez said. “You have to get ahead of these guys. Got to pound that strike zone. It’s a good lineup, especially in this ballpark. You’ve got to give credit where credit is due and these guys are a good hitting team.”
The Rangers jumped on Gonzalez with a five-run first highlighted by Mike Napoli’s third career grand slam.
“He got a belt-high fastball and drove it,” Gonzalez said. “He did his job.”
Texas scored the game’s first run when Oakland shortstop Adam Rosales made a fielding error on Beltre’s hot grounder. Michael Young reached on an infield single that rolled just inside the third base foul line to load the bases, and after Nelson Cruz struck out, Napoli ripped Gonzalez’s first pitch into the left field seats for his 12th homer of the season.
“They got in some counts where he had to throw his fastball and they’re a good fastball hitting team,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He gave up a couple home runs, but he kept fighting and battling.”
Fellow All-Star C.J. Wilson pitched seven effective innings for the Rangers, allowing four runs and five hits with eight strikeouts a night after a fan was killed in a fall while catching a foul ball.
Wilson (9-3) won his fifth straight decision to tie Alexi Ogando for the team lead in wins, but he was critical of himself for allowing three walks and hitting a batter, saying, “I should have been dominant.”
Still, Wilson played a pivotal role as the Rangers matched their second-longest winning streak of the season.
Josh Hamilton, who tossed the ball to the fan on Thursday night, hit a fan with a foul ball off his bat in the sixth inning. The teenage male fan had blood on his face and was tended to by stadium personnel before he walked away, smiling while he held a compress to his head.
Rangers officials said the fan was treated at the stadium and was OK. They didn’t identify him or provide additional details.
Both teams were still dealing with the aftermath of the death of the fan from a 20-foot fall in the second inning of Thursday night’s 6-0 Texas victory.
“You have a job to do,” Melvin said. “Both sides are equal there. We both had heavy hearts. That’s moot. Both teams had to deal with it.”
Brownwood firefighter Shannon Stone tumbled over a railing after catching a foul ball tossed into the stands by Hamilton.
Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre also homered off Gonzalez.
Hamilton was in the starting lineup despite the emotional 24 hours, going 1 for 5.
Before the game, the teams observed a moment of silence in Stone’s memory. Both teams wore black ribbons on their uniform tops.
The temperature at first pitch was 105 degrees, highest in the 18-year history of Rangers Ballpark.
The A’s have lost five of seven and fell 10 games behind the Rangers in the division, their largest deficit this season.
“We’re at the bottom,” Melvin said. “If you look up, you’re looking through everybody, and it’s just not worth looking that way. So we’re just trying to play better and more consistent.”
Notes: Oakland’s Scott Sizemore hit a solo homer in the second, the first long ball allowed by Wilson since Tampa Bay’s Matt Joyce on May 31, a span of 44 1-3 innings. … The previous record temperature at Rangers Ballpark was 103 in 2008. … The A’s are 16-30 on the road.