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OAK@TEX: Rangers put up a five-spot in the first

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson didn't look at the temperature gauge at the start of the game but peeked up there in the third inning and saw it was 104 degrees.

"I was thinking if it was 104 degrees at eight o'clock, then ... " Wilson said.

It was actually just one degree cooler than the temperature at first pitch. The 105-degree reading at game time was a new record for the Ballpark in Arlington, but the Rangers were able to persevere after a hard day and hot night, running their winning streak to five games with an 8-5 victory over the Athletics.

The Rangers arrived at the stadium in a somber mood while still dealing with the emotions that came along with the tragic death of Brownwood, Texas, fireman Shannon Stone on Friday. Nobody was particularly eager to play baseball on Friday night, but the Rangers were able to take care of business once the game started in the oppressive heat.

"That's what they do," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They're pretty good at that. I never thought that would be a problem. These guys don't make excuses. When it's time to play baseball, they play baseball. That's the sign of a good team."

Not only was there record-breaking heat at the Ballpark, there was also no rain in sight. That meant Athletics starter Gio Gonzalez was not going to be saved by the weather this time.

The Rangers jumped on him for five runs in the first inning and two more in the second to take a 7-1 lead. The Rangers had a 7-0 lead against Gonzalez in the fourth inning on May 11, but the game was washed away by rain. There was no reprieve for the All-Star left-hander on Friday night.

"We made him throw the ball in the strike zone," Washington said. "We didn't chase his breaking ball, and we didn't chase his changeup. We made him throw the ball over the plate. That's what you have to do."

In a matchup of two pitchers who will represent the American League on Tuesday, Wilson earned his ninth win of the season by holding the Athletics to four runs in seven innings. He allowed five hits, three walks and eight strikeouts while throwing 102 pitches and will take a record of 9-3 and a 3.20 ERA with him to the All-Star Game.

"I'm disappointed in myself and the linescore, but I'm happy for the win," Wilson said. "They had runners on base because I put them on base. I should have been dominating tonight and I didn't. It was frustrating."

Gonzalez dropped to 8-6 with a 2.47 ERA in 18 starts. That doesn't include his start against the Rangers on May 11 at the Ballpark when he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. Mitch Moreland hit a grand slam and the Rangers were leading 7-0 in the middle of the fourth when the game was rained out.

This time, Napoli delivered the grand slam in a five-run first after Wilson opened the game by retiring the side in order in the top of the inning. An error by shortstop Adam Rosales was also huge in the inning.

"He got in some counts where he had to throw the fastball, and they're a good fastball-hitting team," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "He really did battle for us. We did battle back, and we were at times right there, but we couldn't push across the big hit, whether it was the sixth or the ninth."

Wilson gave up a home run to Scott Sizemore in the top of the second but Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre hit solo shots for the Rangers in the bottom of the inning. The Rangers finished the day hitting .379 with 44 runs scored and seven home runs during their five-game winning streak.

"We talked about just putting together quality at-bats and playing the game the right way," Napoli said. "Do whatever we have to do, get on base, pass it on, whatever it takes."

Wilson had a couple of critical innings, and being able to minimize the damage allowed him to escape with the win. The Athletics, down 7-1, had the bases loaded with nobody out in the fourth. But Wilson got Conor Jackson to ground into a double play and the Athletics scored just once.

In the Oakland sixth, David DeJesus and Coco Crisp led off with infield hits and scored on a two-run double by Josh Willingham. Washington, holding an 8-4 lead, was a bit concerned and had Tommy Hunter warming up in the bullpen. But Wilson proceeded to strike out three straight hitters to extinguish the threat.

"I used my brain and didn't try to overpower them," Wilson said. "I just out-located the swing and the strike zone. That's how I got out of that."

Wilson also retired the side in order in the seventh before Hunter finally took over in the eighth.

"He got his pitch count up and they made him work hard," Washington said. "But he was able to battle and grind it out. That's the type of pitcher that C.J. is."

That's the kind of pitcher it takes when the weather is this hot and there is no rain in sight. Comments