Rangers drop finale in Oakland

By: From Wire Reports
By: From Wire Reports

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Lenny DiNardo is proving his worth to the Oakland Athletics while one of the team's most talented pitchers is resting his troublesome shoulder in Canada.

DiNardo pitched seven shutout innings to help the A's end their longest losing streak in nine years with a 6-0 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.

It was DiNardo's most dominating performance of the season and came in just his second start since replacing Rich Harden in Oakland's rotation after the right-hander was placed on the disabled list July 12 with a strained throwing shoulder. Harden, who was on the DL earlier this season with similar shoulder problems, is doing his early rehab work in his native Canada.

"I'm not trying to fill Rich's shoes by any means," said DiNardo, who snapped a personal two-game losing streak. "When he's on, he's one of the best pitchers in the major leagues. I can strive for that but that's not I'm thinking about."

Bobby Crosby homered and drove in two runs for Oakland, which had lost its previous nine games. The losing streak was the A's longest since 1998 and had dropped them 12 games out of first place in the AL West.

Oakland won despite getting just six hits off Texas starter Kevin Millwood and reliever Willie Eyre. Three of the hits came off Millwood during a four-run second inning, the A's most productive inning since scoring seven runs in the second inning against the New York Yankees on July 1.

"It was a needed win for the team, a real nice win," manager Bob Geren said. "I couldn't be happier with the entire performance today."

DiNardo gave up three hits, struck out three and walked none. The left-hander gave up a pair of doubles and a bunt single but was otherwise untouchable in the longest outing of his career.

The timing was perfect, too. Oakland hadn't won since July 5 and was 5-18 in its previous 23 games.

"I don't want to be the one that, 'Oh I ended it,"' DiNardo said. "We ended it as a team. We came together, we put some runs on the board and we're building momentum. A win always feels good. I wasn't thinking about the streak at all."

He might have been the only one. Fans booed the team throughout the three-game series with Texas and chanted "sub-.500" during Tuesday's loss, a reference to the A's spiraling record.

The ill-feelings turned around a day later, however, after DiNardo and reliever Santiago Casilla combined on a six-hitter.

"Early on in the year I think (DiNardo) was really good one time through the lineup," A's second baseman Mark Ellis said. "Now he's trying to figure out how to get guys out more than once. That's why he's still in the rotation and that's why he continues to get better every start."

Millwood, coming off his best outing of the season when he allowed one run over seven innings against the Angels on July 13, never recovered. The right-hander (6-8) didn't allow another hit but received no support from the Rangers offense and lost for just the second time in his last seven starts. He left after six innings and finished with four strikeouts and three walks.

The loss prevented Texas from matching its longest winning streak of the season. The Rangers, who had won three straight, also failed in their bid to sweep a series for just the second time this year.

"I felt like I threw the ball well, I felt like I had good stuff but the one inning killed me," Millwood said. "I made some good pitches. I either didn't get a call or they hit them and there's not a whole lot you can do. I definitely don't feel like this is a step backward by any means."

DiNardo (4-6) retired the first eight batters he faced before Travis Metcalf lined a hit just inside the third-base line with two outs in the third. Metcalf was awarded second base when a security guard who thought the ball was foul grabbed the grounder and gave it to a fan in the stands. DiNardo then got Jerry Hairston to ground out to third to end the inning.

After Hairston reached on a bunt single in the sixth, DiNardo retired eight straight batters before giving way to Casilla to start the eighth.

The A's, who had gone 11 straight games without scoring more than three runs before Tuesday's 11-4 loss to the Rangers, broke out of their scoring slump early against Millwood when they sent 10 batters to the plate in the second.

Marco Scutaro and Shannon Stewart each had RBI singles, Crosby added a bases-loaded walk and Travis Buck drove in another run with a sacrifice fly. Three of the four runs were unearned after Millwood's throwing error on Mark Kotsay's comebacker.

Crosby, the 2004 American League Rookie of the Year, was batting just .177 entering the game. He also hit a solo drive off Eyre in the seventh for his eighth homer.

Notes

Former A's player Ben Grieve attended the game to visit his father, Tom, a radio broadcaster with the Rangers. Grieve was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1998 and spent four seasons with Oakland before signing with Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2001. ... Texas C Adam Melhuse, acquired in a trade from Oakland on June 9, went 0-for-3 against his ex-teammates.


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