SURPRISE, Ariz. -- On a day when both rookie starting pitchers struggled, the A's batted around in the ninth to top the Rangers, 11-7, on Derek Norris' pinch-hit grand slam off Derek Hankins in the only meeting of the spring between the two American League West rivals on Thursday.
Down one with two outs in the ninth, Oakland tied the game at 7 when Daric Barton reached base on a fielding error by first baseman Brad Hawpe, scoring Collin Cowgill, who led off the frame with a ground-rule double and then moved to third following a pair of walks. With the bases loaded, Hankins came in and replaced reliever Mitch Stetter. On Hankins' third pitch, the A's catcher hammered the pitch over the left-field wall.
Jemile Weeks hit a pair of solo home runs for the Athletics, but that couldn't match a three-run double by Nelson Cruz in the first inning.Weeks, batting in the leadoff spot, was 3-for-4 with a walk, while No. 2 hitter Cliff Pennington was 4-for-4 with a free pass. Athletics starter Brad Peacock, trying to win a spot in the rotation, allowed five runs in 2 1/3 innings. Peacock allowed five hits and three walks and now has a 12.86 ERA this spring. "I felt fine, I was just missing my spots," Peacock said. "I can't walk guys. I did it three times today. I have to go right after hitters, and I wasn't doing that."
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez, making his second start, allowed two runs in two innings. Perez, who threw 58 pitches, allowed five hits and two walks. His main problem continues to be getting too excited on the mound and losing command of his fastball."I was trying to locate my pitches, and I was too anxious," Perez said. "That was the problem today. I know I have to get ahead of the count. I have to stay in control of myself." Neil Ramirez, another one of the Rangers' top pitching prospects, had another rough outing, allowing four runs in two-plus innings. He has a 15.75 ERA for the spring. Up next for the Rangers: For his sterling spring so far, Greg Reynolds will start against the Dodgers on Friday at 3:05 p.m. CT. Watch his outing on MLB.TV or listen on a free webcast.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.