ARLINGTON, Texas (CBS / AP) — Nelson Cruz homered twice, A.J. Pierzynski drove in three runs and the Texas Rangers snapped a six-game losing streak with an 8-7 win over the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
The Rangers had scored only eight runs during what was the longest active skid in the majors, and all six losses came at home.
Cruz’s second homer was a two-run shot onto the hill in straightaway center field on an 0-2 pitch from Jesse Chavez (1-1) in the fifth. Cruz thrust his right arm into the air and shouted out while rounding the bases on his 18th homer of the season. It came right after Pierzynski’s RBI double and put the Rangers up 7-6.
Cruz added a run-scoring double in the seventh and matched his season high with four RBIs.
Oakland, which entered the four-game series opener with a three-game lead over the Rangers in the AL West, wiped out an early 3-0 deficit with a six-run fourth ignited by a bizarre play.
Neal Cotts (3-1) went 2 1-3 perfect innings in relief of rookie Nick Tepesch. Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers each worked 1-2-3 innings, then Joe Nathan gave up a run before securing his 21st save in 22 chances.
After being held to two runs or less in a team record-matching six games in a row, the Rangers took care of that streak in the first three innings. Pierzynski pulled a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole in the second, an inning before an RBI double by Ian Kinsler. That was Kinsler’s first hit in 10 at-bats since coming off the disabled list Saturday after missing 25 games with a rib cage injury.
The Rangers’ eight runs and 12 hits were both their most in 16 games this month.
Cruz, who had his 10th career multihomer game, hit a solo shot in the fourth.
In the Oakland fourth, Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder that ricocheted off third baseman Adrian Beltre toward shortstop. Elvis Andrus was about to throw to first when he saw John Jaso running in front of him toward third.
Andrus threw to Beltre, who made a swiping attempt at a tag. Jaso, sliding headfirst in front of him, lifted his arm into the air to avoid the tag and then dived into the base with his left hand. He was called safe by third base umpire Jordan Baker even though it appeared his hand came off the bag while being tagged. Beltre was irate and manager Ron Washington even came out to argue the call.
Tepesch then allowed three hits and a walk to the next four hitters, including a two-run single by Seth Smith, who scored on Jed Lowrie’s double. Eric Sogard had a sacrifice fly and Coco Crisp’s RBI single made it 6-3 and chased Tepesch.
Oakland rookie Dan Straily had a 2.21 ERA in his previous five starts, a stretch that began at Texas on May 21 when the right-hander worked seven scoreless innings and faced 22 batters — one more than the minimum for that span — in a 1-0 win over Yu Darvish.
Straily hadn’t allowed a homer in his last six starts and 38 innings until Pierzynski went deep. The first of Cruz’s two homers came off him.
Cruz was the first batter faced by Chavez when he took over for Straily, who allowed six runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings.
NOTES: Cespedes started his fourth consecutive game as Oakland’s DH after missing two games because of left hamstring tightness. Manager Bob Melvin wants to see him in the field during batting practice before putting him back in the outfield. … Rangers starting pitchers have gone 16 games in a row without a victory this month, matching a team record set in 1975. … The Rangers have signed their top 13 draft picks after coming to terms Monday with right-hander Cole Wiper from Oregon, their 10th-round selection.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)