ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc had a plan. Leclerc had thrown four straight offspeed pitches to Oakland designated hitter Khris Davis and the count was 2-2 with two out in the ninth.Leclerc, trying to save a 5-4 lead with a runner on first, wanted to throw a fastball high
ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc had a plan. Leclerc had thrown four straight offspeed pitches to Oakland designated hitter Khris Davis and the count was 2-2 with two out in the ninth.
Leclerc, trying to save a 5-4 lead with a runner on first, wanted to throw a fastball high and outside, possibly get Davis to chase it. If not, Leclerc would go with a full-count changeup to try to end the game.
"That was my decision," Leclerc said. "Try the fastball away and come back with the change."
He didn't get that far. Leclerc left the fastball in the strike zone and Davis hit it into the right-field seats for a two-run home run that gave the Athletics a 6-5 victory on Wednesday night at Globe Life Park.
The Rangers led this one 5-1 after six innings behind starter Martin Perez before the Athletics rallied late against the bullpen. Davis did all the damage in the rally, starting with a three-run home run off reliever Cory Gearrin in the seventh that made it a one-run game. The Rangers have now lost five of six since the All-Star break and are 4-15 in July.
"We've got to stay together," Perez said. "That's all we can do. Things aren't going well right now. We just need to focus and go out there and find a way to win."
Davis continues to kill the Rangers. He has gone deep against them in six straight games, the longest such streak against the Rangers since seven in a row by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1994. Davis has 24 home runs against the Rangers since the start of the 2016 season, the most by a player against any single opponent.
"Obviously, he's hit a lot of home runs against us over the course of the years we've played him," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Not all of them have been mistakes. This is a strong guy. He hits a lot of home runs. We've made some mistakes."
Davis was 0-for-3 against Perez, who allowed seven hits, walked three and struck out four. The Rangers have yet to win in his last three starts, but he has a 3.92 ERA since coming off the disabled list.
"I felt good," Perez said. "I was on the attack. All my pitches were down in the zone. I am where I want to be. I feel good out there, and I love to compete. Just go out there and have fun and enjoy the game."
If he stays healthy, Perez has perhaps another dozen starts left before the end of the season. That gives Perez sufficient time to mount another second-half charge as he did last season just when the Rangers despaired he was not going to develop into the front-line pitcher they expected.
Perhaps Perez is getting an earlier start this season. Last year, he lost four of five coming out of the All-Star break, before winning seven in a row and going 8-2 with a 3.71 ERA in his last 11 starts. That led the Rangers to pick up a $6 million option for this season in the hopes that he was set for a breakthrough season.
The Rangers are now looking at a $7.5 million option for next season. That will be an intriguing decision for the Rangers, who right now have only Mike Minor as a lock to be in their rotation next year.
"Martin threw the ball exceptionally well," Banister said. "I thought that it was probably his best outing of the year. Very good mix, allowed him to attack late with the fastball. In trouble innings, he used the offspeed to get himself out of trouble, even when he was down in the count. I thought that Martin threw the ball exceptionally well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The biggest situation for Perez came in the fifth when Davis came up with the bases loaded and two outs. Perez, holding a 5-1 lead, got him to fly out to right field. Perez struck out Davis in his first two at-bats of the night.
"I was trying to stay away with him," Perez said. "I know he got me last year. Today, I was trying to stay outside and down."
Adrian Beltre doubled in the third inning and hit an RBI single in the fifth inning. Beltre's single gave him 5,222 total bases for his career, moving him past Dave Winfield for 15th all time.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Chirinos put the Rangers ahead in the second with a three-run home run, smashing a 3-1 fastball over the center-field fence. The blast had an exit velocity of 106.5 miles per hour and a projected distance of 429 feet. It was his 13th home run of the season.
HE SAID IT
"Honestly, I blacked out and I couldn't tell you. I was telling myself, swing at a good pitch, and it showed up." -- Davis, on his game-winning home run.
Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon (5-8, 4.85 ERA) will pitch in the series finale at 7:05 p.m. CT on Thursday at Globe Life Park. Colon is 10-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 22 career starts against Oakland. Colon enters the start with 245 wins, tied with Nicaragua's Dennis Martinez for the most by a Latin American pitcher. Right-hander Trevor Cahill (1-2, 2.95) will start for the A's.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.