Cust delivers big home run

OAKLAND, Calif. —Jack Cust is particular about his bats, and the first shipment just wasn’t working. He received another shipment just in time to start a hitting streak last week. The new bats are keepers.

“They sent me four bats while we were in Seattle and they felt harder,” Cust said. “You can ask any one, I’m probably the pickiest when it comes to bats. I like the way these feel.”

Cust hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning that helped lift the Oakland Athletics to a 3-1 victory over Texas on Sunday, ending the Rangers’ four-game winning streak and extending Cust’s personal hitting streak to seven games.

Santiago Casilla (1-0) threw a scoreless seventh for the win, and has yet to allow a run in his 16 1-3 innings.

Rangers’ starter Scott Feldman (0-1) took a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning before allowing a sun-aided double to Frank Thomas and Cust’s third homer in four games.

“The ones I used in spring training and in April were too soft,” Cust said. “Maybe I just tricked myself but I hit a ball during a day game that should have gone out. Someone made an adjustment. My bats feel real good now. Hopefully they’ll send more out.”

Cust didn’t blame the old bats for his .155 slump to open the season, saying it was just a coincidence that he’s feeling more comfortable now, hitting .458 with three home runs over his last seven games.

“I’ve hit 10 home runs in April and I’ve batted .100 in April,” the 12-year professional said. “I made a minor adjustment and I feel better. Last year I started 0-for-18, then got hot and then I was in the majors with Oakland. It’s crazy how things work out sometimes.”

Feldman, who grew up just across the bay from the Oakland Coliseum, made his second career start in front of supportive fans and received a nice ovation when he was taken out of the contest. He gave up three runs and six hits in a career-high 6 1-3 innings, walking one and striking out a career-high five batters.

“I felt great about how I pitched,” Feldman said. “It’s kind of a bittersweet sort of deal. It was great pitching in front of my family and friends and in the area that I grew up in. At the same time it’s real frustrating to let that one slip away.”

A’s starter Greg Smith gave up German Duran’s first major-league home run leading off the third and then retired 12 of the final 14 hitters he faced. Smith gave up one run and three hits. He walked two and struck out a career-high 10.

“I don’t know; I was locating the ball well and not trying to do too much— maybe that’s what I got a bunch of strikeouts,” Smith said. “Looking back I wish it were less strikeouts so I could have pitched deeper in the game. To come back and get the win is good enough for me.”

Huston Street pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 10 chances.

With the exception of Duran’s home run, neither team got a runner past second base through the first six innings.

Leading off the seventh, Thomas lifted a high fly ball into center field that Josh Hamilton seemingly had in his sights. At the last second he tried to make a grab for the ball, which fell just behind him.

If he was going to have a chance to win that game it would have had to have been a shutout,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We only scored one run. We’re probably still out there playing if we catch that ball.”