Teagarden's jack exclamation point vs. A's
First home run of season opens up lead as Rangers take set
ARLINGTON -- Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden was all smiles after he crossed home plate in the decisive sixth inning against the A's.That's because his first homer of the season, which broke open what had been a tight game, couldn't have come at a better time for he or the Rangers. Up by just two runs, Teagarden cranked a 2-2 pitch over the right-center-field wall to push the Rangers' lead to four, capping a series-clinching 7-3 win over the A's on Thursday at the Ballpark in Arlington. "The game, the situation it was, to tack on a few more runs right there and extend the lead a little bit felt great," Teagarden said. "With the way our bullpen has been throwing, we felt like the game was in hand at that point." Added manager Ron Washington: "He gave us a 7-3 lead and then we had to battle for nine outs after that," Washington said. "We got it done. It was a big hit. A huge hit." It's been a trying season for Teagarden, who went just 1-for-27 to start the season before being demoted to Double-A Frisco. But after being called up last week to replace the injured Matt Treanor, he's already making the most of his time in Arlington. "It feels great. This whole year, I've been grinding it out and trying new things," Teagarden said. "I spent three months in Frisco trying to find my swing. I've been feeling a lot better working with some guys here and trying to stick with the game plan. I think tonight was a product of that. I haven't been hitting the ball to right field like I'm capable of doing. Hopefully I'll stay with it." And after crushing his two-run homer over the Rangers' bullpen, he was greeted in the dugout to a round of high-fives and a bevy of smiles. "It's one thing that we've been talking about all year," said David Murphy, who led off the decisive sixth with a homer of his own. "We'll have a lead later in the game, and we have chances to add on later in the game and don't get it done. It's huge to add on. We gave up a run in the ninth, but to still have that huge lead and that gap gives us a little bit of breathing room." Added Oakland manager Bob Geren: "These past couple tied games, they've been good baseball. Tonight, it was the sixth inning they got away. It was just a struggle. Those two homers put us out of range." Teagarden's blast -- which scored Joaquin Arias from first -- proved enough for starter C.J. Wilson, who picked up his 10th win of the season. Wilson pitched 5 2/3 innings in the victory, giving up three runs on seven hits while striking out five. "I've been sick all day, so I just tried to go out there and battle," Wilson said. "Warming up today, I told our bullpen catcher to make sure the bullpen didn't mess around because I didn't feel like I had it. I just had to battle through it tonight. It was a start where the only things that went right for me was the offense picking everything up." And his offense, which averaged only 2.6 runs in the first six games of the homestand, picked him up all the way. The Rangers tallied two runs in the first on an RBI groundout by Vladimir Guerrero and a run-scoring single from Nelson Cruz. Guerrero brought in two more runs in the third and fifth on a single and a double-play groundout, respectively. In all, the Rangers pounded out 14 hits against four A's pitchers. "We're not allowed to bet, but if I was a betting man I'd always bet on our offense. Because it's the best," Wilson said. "The guys we have one through nine, it doesn't matter who we put out there, we have so many All-Stars in the lineup they're going to go out there and produce. "Teagarden got his first home run tonight, Murphy hit a home run. Guys that aren't the typical power threats on the team. It just shows how deep we are." It was encouraging for a Rangers offense that had scored more than three runs just once through those first six games. "I didn't think we tried to do too much against [A's pitcher Vin] Mazzaro," Washington said. "We made him throw the ball over the plate, we swung at the pitches we wanted to swing at and everything worked out good." The win capped an overall strong homestand for Texas, which went 5-2 against American League West rivals Los Angeles and Oakland, and pushed the division lead to 8 1/2 games in the process. And it was Teagarden that ended the homestand with the exclamation point. "We got a bomb out of Teagarden," Washington said. "Tonight was a good night. We bounced back and won the series. That's what's important."
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.