Smolinski's first big league homer starts scoring
Tepesch's solid six innings lead Rangers to fourth straight victory
OAKLAND -- Jake Smolinski's timing was off after being activated off the disabled list Tuesday. He struck out against Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir in his first at-bat.
By his second at-bat, he was back in the swing of things. Smolinski hit a two-run shot -- his first big league homer -- in the fourth inning to get the Rangers started and they went on to a 6-3 victory over the Athletics at the Coliseum.
Nick Tepesch went six innings to get the victory and the Rangers have now won four straight. It's their second longest winning streak of the season. They won five straight on April 15-19.
"Another great pitching performance," Rangers manager Tim Bogar said. "It all revolves around the starting pitcher and they have been good for four days in a row."
Tepesch earned his first win since Aug. 6, allowing three runs on five hits, two walks and one strikeout. He was 1-4 despite a 3.97 ERA in his last eight starts while the Rangers were averaging 1.70 runs of support per nine innings when Tepesch was on the mound.
For the season, the Rangers were averaging 2.57 runs of support when Tepesch was on the mound, second lowest among Major League pitchers with at least 100 innings.
But Smolinski, playing in his first game since July 21, helped change that in the fourth inning. Ryan Rua led off with an infield hit. After Robinson Chirinos flied to left, Smolinski crushed an 0-1 fastball deep over the left-center field fence.
"His first at-bat he struck out on a changeup but he had some good swings," Bogar said. "You could see he wasn't overmatched and he got a pitch he could handle. It's nice to see him do something and feel he is a part of it his first day back."
Smolinski had been sidelined with a fractured bone in his left foot. Because the Minor League seasons are over, he was not able to get any at-bats on medical rehabilitation assignment before being activated.
"I felt well…I felt comfortable," Smolinski said. "The first at-bat, it was a matter of seeing more pitches and getting used to the strike zone again. I felt my timing was good. I felt comfortable. I just need to get more at-bats and more pitches under my belt."
The inning did not stop with Smolinski. Rougned Odor then reached on an infield single. Daniel Robertson singled to right, moving Odor to third. Robertson was thrown out at second by right fielder Josh Reddick trying for a double but while doing so, Odor raced home to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
The Athletics scratched out two runs in the bottom of the inning on a double by Adam Dunn, a couple of walks, Reddick's sacrifice fly and an infield single by Derek Norris. But Tepesch was able to escape with the Rangers still leading.
"Just kind of lost my command in that one inning," Tepesch said. "Other than that I felt like I was commanding my pitches and mixing my pitches well. I felt good. I was really struggling to find them and get back to where I was earlier in the game and the last two innings, too. I made an adjustment and got out of the inning."
The Rangers struck back for three runs in the top of the fifth.
Adrian Beltre doubled with one out and scored on shortstop Jed Lowrie's throwing error off of Rua's grounder. Rua went to second and scored on a single by Chirinos. After a wild pitch moved Chirinos to second, he scored on a two-out single by Odor.
Tepesch gave up a home run to Brandon Moss in the sixth before turning it over to the bullpen. The Rangers have now won five of seven against the Athletics in Oakland this season.
"It's disappointing,' Lowrie said. "Obviously this is a team that isn't really playing for a whole lot and it's a bunch of new guys we don't know a whole lot about. We gotta learn quick. I think that they just played with nothing to lose. They were really, really aggressive, and it worked out in their favor."