Washington's slip leaves door open in loss
Warming up Neftali late proves costly in wild division tilt vs. A's
ARLINGTON -- On a night when the Rangers rallied three different times in the late innings -- including in the 11th on a surprising two-out hit by Julio Borbon -- a miscommunication between the manager and the pitching coach was the focal point of a 7-6 loss in 13 innings to the Oakland Athletics.
The Rangers led, 4-3, entering the bottom of the ninth after Josh Hamilton slugged a two-run home run to put his team three outs away from a fifth straight win and a victory in the first of three games against an Oakland team one game behind them in the standings.
Enter closer Neftali Feliz, who was riding a streak of seven consecutive saves, right?
Wrong. Washington went with left-hander Darren Oliver to start the inning, wanting to match up against the left-handed Eric Chavez. The A's third baseman had collected hits, including a home run, in his last two at-bats against right-handed starter Colby Lewis. Against Oliver, Chavez reached on an error by shortstop Elvis Andrus on a chopper in front of second base.
Now it was time for Feliz, right? In a perfect world, yes, but Washington admitted after the game that he didn't tell pitching coach Mike Maddux to have Feliz ready to face right-handed-hitting Adam Rosales. Feliz had started warming up at the beginning of the inning, but not before.
"I messed up [in] not letting Mike know to have Feliz ready," Washington said. "I take the blame for that."
Oliver stayed in to pitch to Rosales, who lined a single to left-center field. Rosales actually made a baserunning blunder by getting thrown out between first and second, but the damage was done: Gabe Gross, pinch-running for Chavez, had reached third base with one out.
Feliz finally came into the game at that point, and he drilled the first batter he faced, pinch-hitter Jake Fox to put runners at first and third. Then the A's hit three consecutive singles against Feliz, taking a 5-4 lead.
The Rangers rallied in the bottom of the ninth, for the second consecutive inning, as Andrus drilled a two-out, RBI single to tie the game at 5, atoning for his error.
"It was a great hit for me," Andrus said. "We kept coming and they kept coming."
The A's finally got their reward for extending the game in the ninth, doing it in the top of the 13th. First baseman Daric Barton produced his second clutch hit in extra innings, a two-out single off Rangers reliever Dustin Nippert, for a 7-6 lead.
The Rangers had the tying run on again in the bottom of the 13th against Tyson Ross -- who went three innings to pick up the win -- but they didn't have another rally in them.
The A's, in fact, positioned themselves to win the game in 11 innings when Barton produced the first of his two clutch hits, a line drive home run to left field off Chris Ray for a 6-5 lead. The Rangers answered that run with Borbon's clutch two-out hit, a bloop single into left-center field to score Murphy and tie the game again.
The Rangers then took a chance at winning the game with two outs in the 12th. With Andres Blanco on first base, running for designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero -- who had singled -- Ian Kinsler followed with a base hit to right field. A's right fielder Ryan Sweeney bobbled the ball for a second, and Rangers third-base coach Dave Anderson decided to take a chance by sending Blanco home. The A's executed the relay perfectly, and Rosales' throw easily nailed Blanco at home.
The Rangers had hot-hitting David Murphy on deck, but the A's likely would have put him on base with an intentional walk, electing to face Ryan Garko, who is batting .071.
"David [Anderson] thought he had a shot," Washington said. "He pushed it. The second baseman made a good throw."
The night started as if it would be a walkover for the Rangers, as Lewis retired the first 12 batters he faced. Staked to a 2-0 lead, Lewis started the top of the fifth by giving up a clean single up the middle by Kevin Kouzmanoff and a two-run home run to Chavez that barely cleared the glove of Borbon in center field, tying the game at 2.
The Rangers put together a two-out rally in the third inning to take a 1-0 lead. Elvis Andrus drew a walk on a full count and stole second on a pitch that bounced away from A's catcher Landon Powell. Andrus scored on Michael Young's single to left field.
David Murphy gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead on a home run to right field in the bottom of the fourth. Murphy's second home run of 2010 was a Rangers Ballpark classic: It appeared to be a lazy fly ball off of the bat but rode the jet stream, blowing out to right field five rows into the bleachers.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.