SURPRISE, Texas (CBS/AP) — Pitching into trouble was less concern for Texas Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch than his ability to escape the jam.
Tepesch gave up one run, three hits and two walks in three innings Saturday as a Rangers’ split squad beat the Oakland Athletics 4-3. All but a single came in the third inning.
“I felt like I didn’t have my best stuff but I competed,” said Tepesch, whose ended the second and third innings with strikeouts. “I tried to attack hitters and go right after them. I felt like pretty good day overall.
After Jeff Lowrie singled home Coco Crisp, Tepesch loaded the bases with two outs. But the right-hander ended his outing with panache, striking out Brandon Moss on a slider after a nine-pitch duel to end the inning.
“Just trying to win the battle, that’s what you’re trying to do as a pitcher and that’s what he’s trying to do as a hitter,” Tepesch said. “I kinda attacked him and got out of it.”
Tepesch, a combined 11-6 with a 3.67 ERA last year at Class A and Double-A a year ago, is one of several pitchers competing for a rotation job until Colby Lewis returns, possibly in June, from surgery last summer to repair a torn flexor tendon.
Left-hander Martin Perez, who finished last season as the fifth starter, had been the presumptive leader until a line drive fractured his pitching arm last weekend. Left-hander Robbie Ross appears to be the current favorite.
“I just go about my business and work as hard as I can every day,” Tepesch said. “Whatever happens happens. I control whatever I can control, that’s the best way to put it.”
Oakland starter Dan Straily gave up two runs — one earned — three hits and a walk in three innings.
“I felt actually in control and wasn’t rushing,” Straily said. “It’s the first time I’ve felt like myself in three outings. I brought the slider out with the first inning and really threw it with convention. So I was happy to see it still was sharp and working for me.”
Shane Peterson’s two-run single gave Oakland a 3-2 lead in the seventh, but Brad Snyder homered off Ryan Cook in the bottom half and pinch-hitter Jorge Alfaro singled home Edwin Garcia with the go-ahead run.
Texas took a 2-0 lead in the second when Martin hit an RBI single that left fielder Yoenis Cespedes charged and overran for an error that also allowed A.J. Pierzynski to score.
NOTES: Straily threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen after his outing. … A’s closer Grant Balfour threw another bullpen session Saturday as he continues to recover from right knee surgery in February. Balfour, who saved 24 games last season, likely will pitch in a simulated game or batting practice before appearing in a spring training game. … Oakland 2B Jemile Weeks, originally slated to return Sunday from a left shoulder bruise, won’t be back in the lineup until at least Monday. … Rangers RHP Matt Harrison was scratched from his start in Texas’ other split-squad game Saturday with inflammation in a toe on his left foot. … Before the game, the A’s sent non-roster invitees RHP Bruce Billings, RHP Sonny Gray and LHP Justin Thomas to their minor league camp.
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