Rangers, Wright cruise in Oakland

By: From Wire Reports
By: From Wire Reports

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Although Jamey Wright has spent far too much of his star-crossed career battling through injuries, the Texas right-hander discovered he's tough to beat when he gets 11 days' rest between starts.

Facing the struggling Oakland Athletics doesn't hurt, either.

Jerry Hairston and Marlon Byrd hit two-run doubles and Wright pitched seven scoreless innings in the Rangers' 4-1 victory over Oakland on Monday night, the A's eighth straight loss.

Sammy Sosa doubled and scored two runs for the last-place Rangers, who won their second straight road game to move within 3 1/2 games of the third-place A's.

Wright (3-2), who missed two months of the season with right shoulder problems, hadn't pitched since July 4, but he produced his best start of the season for the Rangers when they dearly needed it.

He yielded four hits and three walks while silencing Oakland's punchless lineup and providing some much-needed rest for the Texas bullpen after Sunday's 11-inning win at Los Angeles.

"I felt strong, that's for sure -- better than I felt before the (All-Star) break," Wright said after his longest start in 13 months. "I don't think I'll get 11 days before my next start, so I'll be ready for that, too."

The sinkerballer, who went 6-10 across the Bay for San Francisco last season, faltered in his final two innings when he lost his good grip on the ball. He still struck out Marco Scutaro with two runners in scoring position to end the seventh inning.

Wright, who lowered his ERA from 5.55 to 4.31, hadn't made a start without giving up a run since July 2005.

"He was pounding the strike zone," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Had the sinker working. He got in trouble a couple of times, but got the ground balls to get out of it, and that's exactly what you want to see out of him."

Eric Gagne picked up his 14th save in 15 chances after coming in with two on and nobody out in the ninth. He retired two batters before giving up an RBI single by Scutaro, but struck out new A's starting catcher Kurt Suzuki to end it.

Oakland played without catcher Jason Kendall, who was traded to the Chicago Cubs before the game, and Eric Chavez, a last-minute scratch with tightness in his lower back. The lineup changes did nothing to help the A's, who are on their longest losing skid since May 2005.

"Right now we just have more guys than not struggling a little bit," A's manager Bob Geren said. "Any time you're not swinging the bat the way you'd like, you put pressure on yourself because you're letting the team down. It looks like kind of a group effort."

With last season's ALCS memories fading with every losing week, Oakland is a season-worst five games under .500 while scoring fewer than four runs in 11 straight games.

"We've got enough problems of our own not to worry about the problems anyone else is having," said Washington, the longtime A's coach who took over the Rangers last winter.

The A's opened the second half of the season with four straight losses in Minnesota, the first time they've been swept in a four-game series since July 2003. A small crowd turned out to see two losing teams seemingly going nowhere on a chilly Oakland evening.

Dallas Braden (1-4), recalled from Triple-A Sacramento before the game, had seven strikeouts in six innings, but gave up eight hits. Texas scored two runs in the fourth on Hairston's shot into the gap, which snapped a 2-for-31 skid for the second baseman.

The Rangers then added two more in the fifth when Sosa and Byrd hit consecutive doubles.

Suzuki, anointed by general manager Billy Beane as Oakland's new starter after Kendall's departure in a deal for catcher Rob Bowen and a minor-league pitcher, went 0-for-3 with a walk.

"Instead of doing what we do, we're getting out of our zone," A's outfielder Shannon Stewart said. "Everyone is trying to get something going. It happens when you're losing. Everything's magnified."

Michael Young's first-inning double was his first extra-base hit since June 15. The Texas All-Star's previous 26 hits all were singles.

Notes

Joey Chestnut, the San Jose State student who won the national hot dog eating contest at Coney Island last week, threw out the first pitch. ... Texas RHP Akinori Otsuka might be ready to return from a sore elbow Tuesday after an encouraging bullpen session at the Coliseum. Otsuka is the Rangers' top setup man and attractive trade bait. ... Brad Wilkerson made a face-first diving catch on the left-field line in the fourth inning to rob Bobby Crosby of a hit.


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