09/24/2003 6:38 PM ET
Rangers swept out of Oakland
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- The good news for the Rangers is they have nowhere to go but up.
On Wednesday, the American League West Champion Oakland Athletics rallied for two runs in the seventh inning and one more in the eighth to edge the Rangers, 5-3, to complete the three-game sweep at Network Associates Coliseum.
With the loss the Rangers are assured of a fourth-place finish in the AL West for the fourth consecutive season. The club has lost four in a row and is 5-10 since Sept. 15.
Reliever Ron Mahay allowed two runs and one hit in 1/3 of an inning to take the loss. Oakland starter Tim Hudson allowed five hits and two runs in seven innings to earn the victory for Oakland.
The teams combined for four home runs in the game, but perhaps the biggest offensive play of the game did not not leave the infield.
Tied at 2 in the seventh, Jose Guillen delivered what turned out to be a tricky and pivotal sacrifice bunt with Frank Menechino on third base and Chris Singleton on first base.
Rangers rookie reliever Rosman Garcia fielded the ball in front of the mound and immediately turned toward second with the hopes of starting of an inning-ending double play. But Garcia double-clutched before making an off-balance throw to first base to retire Guillen.
All the while, Menechino, who had reached base via a walk from Mahay, sprinted home from third base to break the tie and put the Athletics ahead, 3-2.
"It was hit back to me and my first thought is the double play," Garcia said. "It was hit hard and I think we could have made it, but it didn't happen and I had to get an out at first. Sometimes it happens."
The momentum had shifted, but the Athletics were not done with Garcia.
Esteban German followed with a run-scoring single to right field to score Singleton and give the home team a 4-2 advantage. Garcia hit the next batter and Showalter had seen enough.
Enter Aaron Fultz. One batter -- and one strikeout -- later, the Rangers were out of the inning, but trailing by two runs.
Rangers manager Buck Showalter called the bunt "a simple fundamental play."
"I consider it a gift handed to us and we didn't take advantage of it," Showalter said. "If he doesn't feel like he can turn two, the first priority is to look at the runner at third. Obviously, it was almost a safety-squeeze-type thing. I think their runner made a poor read on it and we didn't take advantage of it. ... But if you ever are in doubt, you go to third base."
Mark Teixeira cut the deficit in half with a solo home run, his 26th of the season, in the eighth inning to put the visitors within one run, 4-3.
But Adam Melhuse's solo homer in the bottom half of the frame pushed Oakland's lead back to two runs, 5-3.
Alex Rodriguez, who saw his streak of 546 consecutive games played come to an end, watched from the bench for eight innings, but began stretching and looking into the dugout in the ninth.
"It was a small streak and not a big deal at 500, in the grand spectrum of things. It is very nice, but it's not my goal. I am never going to compromise my love or respect for the game. If we had been up 10-0, I wouldn't have tried to get an at-bat to keep the streak going. That would be very selfish of me."
As for Rangers starter Joaquin Benoit, he allowed four hits and two runs in four innings. He threw 100 pitches. Guillen, the second batter of the game, tagged Benoit for a two-run homer.
"It was a tough start giving up two runs in the first inning, but I think I calmed down after that. I still threw too many pitches." Benoit said. "I had five walks, but it was a tough strike zone. It's tough to do what you want to do when you are not getting the calls. I can only do my part and give my team a chance.
"I'm disappointed we lost, but I think I did OK out there."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its