Backed by D, HRs, Kazmir, A's one-hit Texas
OAKLAND -- A's center fielder Billy Burns made two phenomenal catches and recorded two hits to back Scott Kazmir, who tossed eight splendid innings as Oakland, which homered twice in the eighth, one-hit the Texas Rangers in a 7-0 win at the Coliseum on Thursday for a series victory.
"It was a clean game," Kazmir said, "and that's where we need to be."
Burns finished 2-for-3 with two singles, a walk, a sacrifice fly and the two highlight-reel plays in center field. First, he robbed Delino DeShields of a base hit with a diving catch in left-center in the sixth inning, then he slammed into the center-field wall to snare a Carlos Corporan fly ball in the eighth.
"When they play great defense like that, it makes for a long day," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "They took some hits away from us."
Mark Canha and Josh Reddick added more than enough insurance with homers in the eighth, as the A's scored six runs in the inning. Canha's two-run blast to left gave the A's a 3-0 lead, and Reddick's shot to right bumped the score to 7-0.
Rangers starter Chi Chi Gonzalez gave up his first Major League run, ending a streak of 15 scoreless innings to start his career. Gonzalez allowed just one run over seven innings, but that was all the A's needed.
The Rangers hadn't been shut out in 56 straight games, the longest streak in the Majors this season. The last time they were shut out was also against Kazmir on April 8, when the A's won 10-0.
"Kazmir always seems to pitch well against us," Banister said. "He was able to use his cutter, and his secondary pitches -- the breaking ball and changeup -- were giving us fits."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Blazing Burns: Burns made two tremendous plays in center field to help preserve Kazmir's gem. In the sixth, he laid out in left-center to rob DeShields of what likely would have been a double. Then in the eighth, he made another highlight-reel catch, slamming against the wall in center and reeling in a Carlos Corporan fly ball. More >
"That's unbelievable," Kazmir said. "That right there gets you going as a pitcher."
DeShields gets his man: DeShields caught Reddick's fly at about medium depth in left field and fired a strike to catcher Corporan that beat Sam Fuld to the plate, completing a double play in the fifth that kept the Rangers within a run at the time.
"He made a nice catch and was tracking balls down all day," Gonzalez said. "Any play the defense makes is a great play for me: it's an out."
Back in form: Kazmir entered the game with opponents batting .299 against him over his last six starts, but he gave up just one hit in eight innings Thursday. He didn't allow a hit until an Elvis Andrus single in the fifth, and that was it. Kazmir picked up his 11th career win against Texas (11-5), his most against any opponent.
"One mistake I think he made all day, and it ended up being a single," Reddick said. "He kept a really good lineup on its toes." More >
All good things must end: Rangers reliever Jon Edwards gave up his first runs at any level since April 14, when he allowed four in the eighth with Triple-A Round Rock. He had made six scoreless appearances with the Rangers before Thursday and 15 straight at Round Rock.
"I trust everything that Choo does on the field. He is one of the most passionate guys about team and winning. When we lose, he always thinks he could do more. That's his drive to want to win." -- Banister, on right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who went 0-for-4 and saw his batting average dip to .242
"When you have a tight game and you're getting a well-pitched game, it adds to the momentum when you're playing defense on top of it." -- A's manager Bob Melvin
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Reddick's home run was his first off a left-handed pitcher since September 2013 at Minnesota.
Rangers: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (3-2, 3.25 ERA) starts Friday night's series opener against the Twins at 7:05 CT. He's 2-0 over his last four starts, and the team has won six of his last seven starts. He's still looking for his first home win of the season.
Athletics: Right-hander Jesse Chavez takes the hill against the Angels in Anaheim on Friday night at 7:05 PT as the A's look for their third straight win. Chavez (2-6, 2.51 ERA) is coming off an outing in which he allowed four runs in five innings in a loss to the Red Sox.
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