Donaldson out at plate, A's lose 4-3 to Rangers
STEPHEN HAWKINS,AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Josh Donaldson knew it was going to take a perfect play to keep him from scoring the tying run for the Oakland Athletics in the ninth inning.
The Texas Rangers made the play, throwing Donaldson out at the plate to end their series-clinching 4-3 victory over the AL West-leading A's on Thursday.
Donaldson, who reached on a two-out single off closer Joe Nathan, was trying to score from first when Seth Smith dumped a full-count pitch into center that short-hopped and caromed away from charging center fielder Craig Gentry.
"As soon as I saw it hit his chest, I was gone. It took a perfect throw to get me," Donaldson said. "It was frustrating because it was the worst outcome we could have had."
Gentry recovered quickly to get the ball and threw to Elvis Andrus. The shortstop made a perfect relay to catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was blocking the plate and tagged out Donaldson to end the game.
"We've had some issues getting runs today, so aggressive is fine with me," manager Bob Melvin said.
With coach Mike Gallego signaling him to stop, after initially waving him around the base, Donaldson never slowed down around third base.
Oakland scored single runs to go ahead in three consecutive innings, only to give up the lead each time.
Ian Kinsler put the Rangers ahead for the only time with his two-out single in the seventh.
Texas, which had lost seven of its previous nine games, pulled within a game of the A's 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.
"Any win right now is special, especially against a good team like the A's, especially to win the series," Andrus said.
Oakland, which went from a seven-game deficit in mid-May to starting this series with a season-high three-game division lead, lost for the fifth time in seven games.
"That was as frustrating as any loss we've had," manager Bob Melvin said. "They played hard on every single pitch and every single out, but it seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong."
Kinsler came to the plate in the seventh 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.
After Coco Crisp had a leadoff walk in the eighth, John Jaso hit a deep flyball. Right fielder Nelson Cruz made a leaping catch and held on when he hit in midair the inverted wall in front of the Texas bullpen. Jed Lowrie, already with three hits, then grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"I didn't think there was any doubt that it wasn't going out," Melvin said of Crisp. "From the swing and the sound of it, I thought it was a home run."