ARLINGTON – Fans were exiting in the seventh inning. All hope seemed lost as the Texas Rangers were on the verge of opening their biggest series of the season by getting blown out by the Oakland Athletics.
Trailing 9-2, a fourth straight loss seemed inevitable but the Rangers didn’t go down without a fight. They scored six runs on a remarkable two-out rally in the eighth that ended on a controversial umpiring call.
In the end, though, the A's prevailed with a 9-8 victory on Friday night to open a pivotal three-game series against the top two teams in the American League West. Oakland extended its division lead to 4 1/2 games, while Texas has now lost seven of eight. The Rangers still has a one-game lead on Tampa Bay for the top wild card spot, and have to feel better about their chances after rallying late in the past three games.
Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski started the eighth inning by drawing consecutive walks, and Jim Adduci had a one-out single to load the bases. Jurickson Profar then struck out, but Leonys Martin delivered an infield single to score a run.
Ian Kinsler drew a bases-loaded walk to score another run, and Elvis Andrus had a two-run single. Alex Rios kept the two-out rally going with a two-run single to center to cut the deficit to 9-8.
Adrian Beltre followed with a single to left, but Rios was thrown out trying to advance to third. Replays showed that third base umpire Andy Fletcher missed the call, and Rios argued and was ejected as the inning ended.
The tension carried into the top of the ninth when Matt Garza was ejected by first base umpire Joe West for voicing his displeasure from the bench.
After Jason Frasor and Tanner Scheppers combined for a scoreless ninth, the Rangers threatened with two outs in the ninth against A’s lefty Sean Doolittle.
Pierzynski and pinch-hitter Jeff Baker struck out, but Robinson Chirinos had a two-out double to give the Rangers late life. Profar, though, struck out looking to end the game.
Rangers starter Derek Holland had his worst outing of the season, allowing six runs on eight hits with one walk and two strikeouts over three-plus innings.
-- Drew Davison