Rangers beat A's in rain-soaked finale
Texas sits through two rain delays in fifth straight victory
ARLINGTON -- A 73-minute rain delay cut Rangers starter Kevin Millwood's outing down to just 1 1/3 innings on Sunday against the Athletics.Still, Texas overcame two rain delays and a near meltdown from its bullpen to hold on to win a sloppily contested game against Oakland, 12-9, on Sunday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "It wasn't nice," Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted after his team won its fifth straight game. "It was an ugly win. Sometimes you've got to win ugly." Despite the painfully long five-hour, 21-minute game, the Rangers completed the three-game sweep against the fading Athletics, who have lost 11 of their last 15. Reliever Bill White earned his first Major League win and Texas won for the 12th time in its last 14 games.
More importantly, though, it pulled the Rangers into a virtual tie with the Athletics for third place in the American League West. Texas had sat in the AL West cellar since April 25 and hadn't swept Oakland at home since Sept. 21-23, 2004.Now, the biggest question concerning the Rangers is when Millwood -- who threw 30 pitches on Sunday -- will pitch again. Millwood believes he could pitch as early as Tuesday, when Texas faces Detroit in a doubleheader. "Off the top of my head, that's probably not going to happen," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "We're going to talk about it tonight." Millwood is scheduled to start Friday at Oakland, but he will be pushed up -- most likely to Wednesday against the Tigers. Millwood began the game with a perfect first inning and got the first out of the second inning before steady rain poured down. The game had already been pushed back 16 minutes because of the rain prior to first pitch. As usual, Millwood did not rev up his arm after the delay. But, surprisingly, Oakland stuck with its starter, Lenny DiNardo, and he resumed throwing after the delay -- something that backfired. DiNardo began the second inning by allowing four consecutive singles, including two run-scoring singles to Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz, and two walks. With the bases loaded, DiNardo got Michael Young to ground to short, but an errant throw by A's shortstop Donnie Murphy allowed two more runs to score. Oakland reliever Colby Lewis replaced DiNardo -- and didn't fare any better. Rangers slugger Sammy Sosa belted Lewis' second pitch 442 feet to the club-level seats in left field -- just the 12th home run in ballpark history to reach that distance. It marked Sosa's 607th career home run as Lewis became the 368th pitcher to surrender a homer to the potential Hall of Famer. It was the highlight of the Rangers' eight-run second inning. "I just looked for a good pitch to hit, and I put a pretty good swing into it," said Sosa, who has been limited to a reserve role since the beginning of August. Oakland responded, though, scoring on a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a Nick Swisher solo home run in the sixth. An inning later, the A's scored five runs and had the tying run on third. But Rangers reliever Wes Littleton came in for former A's reliever John Rheinecker to get a inning-ending grounder from Dan Johnson to preserve a one-run lead. The Rangers scored three runs in the seventh, with Jerry Hairston Jr. providing a key two-run single off Alan Embree. Swisher hit his second home run of the game in the ninth, but Joaquin Benoit was eventually able to close the door on the resilient A's. The win went to White, who pitched two innings, allowing one run. "I didn't know I got [my first] win until we were back in the clubhouse," said White, who was a September callup from Double-A Frisco. "I thought it was Millwood with the way the game played out with the rainout." The rain did make it a taxing day for both pitching staffs. The Rangers used six relievers, while the Athletics used five. Frank Francisco took the hill after the 73-minute delay and issued three straight walks, gifting the A's a run. Francisco walked two more in the third before Scott Feldman replaced him. "He's having trouble trying to repeat his delivery," Washington said of Francisco. "It's between his ears, he's got to clear it out." Feldman didn't fare much better than Francisco, issuing three walks and a hit batter. Still, the A's converted that into just one run. Feldman left the game in the fourth inning with right knee irritation. He is day-to-day. While it was an ugly, five-plus-hour win, it topped off a sweep for the Rangers as they outscored the Athletics, 24-15, and trailed only for a half-inning throughout the series. "It was just a weird game, something I've never seen before and probably won't ever again," said Ian Kinsler, who scored three runs. "A game that lasts five hours like that, it's worth it for the win. At the end of the day, we'll take it."
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.