ARLINGTON -- Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish has continually made strides in his endurance this season as he returns from 2015 Tommy John surgery. He checked off another step in his recovery on Wednesday night, pitching into the eighth inning for the first time this season as he helped lead the
ARLINGTON -- Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish has continually made strides in his endurance this season as he returns from 2015 Tommy John surgery. He checked off another step in his recovery on Wednesday night, pitching into the eighth inning for the first time this season as he helped lead the Rangers to a three-game sweep of the A's with a 6-2 win at Globe Life Park.
"Elbow-wise, I have no problems. Almost the same as [before] the Tommy John surgery," said Darvish, who allowed two runs and struck out nine in seven-plus innings. "There are problems here and there, and I think in my mind, 'Am I going to be OK?' It's like that every outing. But I have learned so much from my previous experiences that I use in a game to make adjustments."
The Rangers, who collected their Major League-leading 39th comeback victory, took the lead for good in the fifth on a two-run single from Ian Desmond off A's starter Sean Manaea.
• Rangers' aggressiveness pays off with sweep
The A's had taken the lead in the top half of the fifth on a solo home run from center fielder Jake Smolinski, one of two homers Darvish allowed. Coco Crisp led off the game with his 11th home run of the season.
Manaea, who struck out a career-high nine batters the last time he faced the Rangers, wasn't as successful this time around. He allowed five runs on nine hits in six-plus innings, exiting the game after allowing two singles to open the seventh. Desmond added a run-scoring single and Jonathan Lucroy followed three batters later with a two-run double off Liam Hendriks to close out the scoring.
"They just got bigger hits than we did," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Sean was good again. Maybe fastball command wasn't great, but even when he doesn't have his best command, his stuff gets him through it. He's getting deep into games for us, he's making good hitters look bad, he's getting swings and misses and using all three of his pitches. He pitched well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Crisp opens game with homer: Crisp's playing time has been strictly reserved for starts against right-handers of late, a platoon role that is unfamiliar to the veteran outfielder. But Crisp brushed aside any frustration felt by the decreased role -- which could affect a 2017 vesting option based on playing time -- and made his presence known quickly on Wednesday, sending the second pitch of the game into the right-field stands for an early one-run lead.
Lucroy reaches 20 home runs: Lucroy reached the 20-homer mark in a season for the first time in his seven-year career with his solo shot in the fourth inning. The ball barely cleared the left-field wall, skipping off the top of it and into the first couple rows of seats. The ball traveled just an estimated 349 feet, according to Statcast™, but it was enough to tie the score, 1-1, at the time. The homer was Lucroy's seventh in 15 games with the Rangers since being acquired from the Brewers.
"We had good at-bats all up and down the lineup. A lot of big hits," Lucroy said. "It was a lot of fun to be in that lineup tonight."
Darvish works around infield singles: The A's opened the seventh with two infield singles from Marcus Semien and Ryon Healy. A 6-4 fielder's choice from Smolinski moved Semien to third with just one out and the Rangers leading, 3-2. Darvish then picked up his eighth and ninth strikeouts -- Max Muncy and Crisp -- to end the inning and preserve the Rangers' lead.
"That was a huge inning for him," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The broken-bat [single], the ball off his glove -- to be able to come back and shut that inning down really was a huge plus for Yu. I think it was a big momentum builder for him."
A's can't keep it close: The A's one-run deficit quickly extended to four runs in the seventh. Manaea was back on the mound for the start of the inning despite being at 101 pitches, and Elvis Andrus greeted him with a first-pitch single, setting up a bunt from Drew Stubbs that resulted in another base hit when second baseman Muncy could not cover first base. Hendriks entered and walked his first batter, Delino DeShields, paving the way for RBI hits from Desmond and Lucroy that would prove too much for the A's to overcome.
"That's on me," Muncy said. "That's my job to cover first base, and I just wasn't cheating over, and when it came down to it, it was a foot race between me and Stubbs and I just wasn't in position to make a catch. It's very frustrating. It was a frustrating chain of events, and you never know how that inning turns out if we get an out there, and that's all on me."
"I love seeing emotion from our guys. It's OK to have emotion. It's OK to show emotion. This is a tough game and it's a competitive game, and these guys are putting a lot into their craft and their skill. I love that part of it. It gets me fired up in the dugout when I see that kind of emotion." -- Banister, on Darvish's reaction after striking out Crisp to end the seventh
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rangers swept a series from the A's at Globe Life Park for the first time since a four-game sweep in July 2011.
The A's won a challenge in the bottom half of the eighth inning, when Andrus reached first on a ground ball to third base, only for the safe call to be overturned for the second out of the inning.
A's: The A's will enjoy an off-day in Chicago on Thursday before beginning a three-game series with the White Sox beginning Friday. Right-hander Kendall Graveman, who has a 5.40 ERA in his last four starts, gets the ball in the 5:10 p.m. PT opener at U.S. Cellular Field.
Rangers: After Thursday's off-day, Cole Hamels will start the opener of a three-game series against the Rays at 6:10 p.m. CT on Friday at Tropicana Field. It will be the first time Hamels has pitched in St. Petersburg since Game 1 of the 2008 World Series, when he was with the Phillies.
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Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.