ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ian Kinsler put Texas ahead for the first time with a two-run single in the seventh and the Rangers held on, throwing out the tying run at the plate for the final out of the game, for a series-clinching 4-3 victory over the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
Texas pulled within a game of the Athletics by winning three times in the four-game set. The division’s top two teams don’t play again until the first weekend of August.
Kinsler came to the plate right after Leonys Martin’s hustling infield single, getting to first base ahead of Sean Doolittle (3-2) when the pitcher was taking the toss from first baseman Brandon Moss. That loaded the bases with two outs, and Kinsler hit a full-count pitch through the middle of the infield.
The game ended when Josh Donaldson, who reached on a two-out single off closer Joe Nathan, was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on Seth Smith’s single to center.
Smith hit a fast-sinking ball that dropped just in front of Craig Gentry, who had replaced Martin defensively in center to start the ninth. The ball caromed away from Gentry, but he picked it up and threw to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who made a perfect relay to catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Donaldson never slowed down rounding third base, despite coach Mike Gallego’s signaling for him to stop, and couldn’t slide around the tag.
Tanner Scheppers (5-0), the fourth reliever after starter Josh Lindblom, worked 1 2-3 scoreless innings before Nathan struck out two in the ninth and got his 22nd save in 23 chances.
Notes: Rangers RF Nelson Cruz made a leaping catch and held on when he hit in midair the inverted wall in front of the Texas bullpen in the eighth. ... Kinsler got his 161st career stolen base after his go-ahead single, matching Bump Wills for the most in Rangers history. ... In their seven previous plate appearances before Thursday with the bases loaded, the A’s had been 4 for 4 with a homer, a walk and two sacrifice flies.