Moreland's moonshot powers Rangers past A's
OAKLAND -- A's ace Sonny Gray doesn't get out-pitched very often, but that's what happened Tuesday night at the Coliseum, as Rangers right-hander Nick Martinez tossed six shutout innings in his team's 2-1 win over the A's.
"The last year and a half or so, [Martinez] has been one of the better pitchers in the American League," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Prince Fielder drove in Delino DeShields with a bloop single in the third, and Mitch Moreland belted a solo home run to straightaway center in the sixth. The A's, who have dropped four in a row, couldn't rally against relievers Jon Edwards, Ross Detwiler, Tanner Scheppers and Shawn Tolleson, who earned his eighth save in as many chances.
The Rangers have now won 15 of 19 and own a Major League-best 20-12 record on the road.
"I just think we're taking it one game at a time, trying to go out and beat the team across from us," Moreland said. "It just happens to be we've done it more on the road. I don't know. I can't put a finger on it. We're going out and trying to win every game."
Said Rangers manager Jeff Banister: "It was a tough win. Sometimes just enough is just enough. Our guys battled against Sonny Gray, who we haven't had a lot of luck against. We had guys coming through, and we got some big outs."
Stephen Vogt singled home Ben Zobrist with no outs in the eighth, but Billy Butler followed by bouncing into a double play, and the A's -- who finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base -- didn't threaten after that.
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Martinez works his magic: Martinez pitched his way out of trouble in three consecutive innings. The A's had a runner on third with one out in the fourth and Martinez kept the ball in the infield to strand him there. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, before finishing his night by striking out Brett Lawrie in the sixth, stranding another runner in scoring position. Martinez owns a 1.47 ERA in six road starts.
A different shade of Gray: Gray allowed two earned runs on eight hits in six innings. It's his first loss in four starts, and his record dips to 7-3 on the season. Gray entered the game 6-2 with a 1.54 ERA in eight career starts against the Rangers.
"I felt OK," Gray said. "[My stuff] has been better than it was tonight. It felt like at times it was flat, and then when they put the bat on the ball, they put it in the right spots and had a couple of big hits."
Rangers break through first: DeShields' stand-up triple and Fielder's RBI single gave the Rangers the early lead, usually a formula for victory. The Rangers improved to 27-6 when scoring first.
Slumps busted?: Vogt (who entered 1 for his last 20) and Zobrist (1 for his last 18) combined for the A's only run with back-to-back hits in the bottom of the eighth. Vogt's single plated Zobrist, who scampered home just ahead of a tag attempt by Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos. Banister challenged the play, but the call stood with no evidence that Chirinos had ever tagged Zobrist.
"I just hope we're not mesmerized by the fact he can throw with both hands. This will be the first time we've seen anything like it. We'll attack him like he's two different arms. The bottom line is you have to hit the baseball. It'll be fun to watch." -- Banister on A's switch pitcher Pat Venditte, who pitched a perfect top of the ninth
"It starts to wear on a team, but it also starts to wear on us individually." -- Vogt on losing a fourth straight game
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Moreland hit his ninth home run at the Coliseum since 2010, the second most by any Athletics opponent. Mike Trout has 10.
Rangers: Right-hander Yovani Gallardo (5-6, 3.54) has been on a roll lately, and he'd like to keep it going when he takes the mound for the Rangers on Wednesday night. He is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last three starts -- but is 0-3 with an ERA of 6.48 in three starts against the A's.
A's: Right-hander Jesse Hahn (3-5, 3.51) takes the mound Wednesday for the A's, looking for his second straight win. He tossed seven innings and allowed one run in the A's 7-5 win over the Tigers on Thursday, and he has surrendered three earned runs or fewer in five consecutive starts.
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