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Nevin breaks out of slump with homer at right time

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- With all his teammates waiting at home plate, Phil Nevin slammed his batting helmet to the ground and jumped into the middle of the celebration.

"It's awesome," Texas' designated hitter said. "I don't think I've ever been that emotional on a baseball field. ... It's a great feeling. You round third and the whole team is waiting for you."

With one swing of the bat Thursday night, Nevin gave the Rangers an 8-7 victory over the Oakland Athletics and shook off an offensive drought that has been so bad he didn't even play the previous two games.

Nevin's homer to center field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning came off Huston Street (1-2). It snapped an 0-for-17 slump and was the first ball Nevin hit over the fence in 22 games. His last homer came a month ago Thursday, when he hit his seventh -- the most he ever had in April.

"I feel great for him. He's a veteran guy who wants to win and contribute," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "Tonight, he did."

Oakland, which blew a seven-run lead for only the third time in franchise history, has lost six straight.

Rookie second baseman Ian Kinsler, who came off the disabled list earlier Thursday, homered twice for Texas. His second homer tied the game at 7 in the eighth.

That was about the same time Showalter went to Nevin and told him that the Rangers were going to win. And likely assure Nevin, already 0-for-4 with a strikeout, that he wouldn't be lifted for a pinch hitter.

"Obviously, I haven't had a lot of at-bats lately," Nevin said. "To get into one like that was a heck of a moment. You just handle things and keep working hard. I want to be part of this group and win here."

Rod Barajas hit a grand slam and Mark Teixeira also homered for the Rangers (24-23), who lead the AL West by two games over Oakland (22-25). Three more games remain in the weekend series.

"You can never score enough runs in this ballpark. In this ballpark, you never know what's going to happen," said Nick Swisher, who went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer for the A's. "It's a tough loss. Luck isn't on our side."

Rangers closer Akinori Otsuka (1-1) worked a perfect top of the ninth.

Kinsler, who missed six weeks because of a dislocated left thumb, went 3-for-4. His first homer came in the sixth right after Barajas hit his second career grand slam to chase Oakland starter Brad Halsey.

"To have a game like this is outstanding, not just personally, but to pull it out as a team," Kinsler said. "I hope people don't expect this out of me every night."

In nine games this season, Kinsler is hitting .520 (13-for-25) with three homers. He got hurt on a stolen base attempt April 11.

Oakland built a 7-0 lead in five innings in another bad home start for Kevin Millwood.

Millwood gave up nine runs in 1 1/3 innings against Minnesota his last home start May 9, and the right-hander, who got a $60 million, five-year deal from Texas last winter, is 1-3 with a 7.76 ERA in six home starts. He allowed only two runs in 14 innings in his last two starts, on the road against the New York Yankees and Houston.

The A's led 3-0 in the second after Frank Thomas had an RBI single and Bobby Kielty a two-run double. Dan Johnson snapped an 0-for-11 skid in the fourth with an RBI single that made it 4-0.

After Kielty's double, one fan yelled "Come on Chan Ho!" -- a reference to the last big-contract pitcher the Rangers had. Chan Ho Park made only 68 starts in 3 1/2 injury-plagued seasons after signing a $65 million, five-year contract with the Rangers, who traded him to San Diego last season for Nevin.

When Kielty hit another double with two outs in the eighth, Adam Melhuse was thrown out trying to score from first. Melhuse argued that he beat the throw with a head-first slid, but a replay showed clearly that Barajas tagged him on the fingertips just before he touched the plate.

Halsey didn't allow a run until Barajas hit the grand slam set up by two singles, a walk and a fielder's choice. Kinsler then homered off reliever Steve Karsay.

"It was an elevated fastball, a safe pitch in that situation if you execute the pitch," Halsey said.

Teixeira led off the seventh with his fifth homer.

Halsey, making his fifth start for injured Rich Harden, allowed four runs and six hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked four, three in the first inning when the Rangers failed to score because of a baserunning mistake.

Leadoff hitter Gary Matthews Jr. was on third base with one out when Nevin hit a flyball to right. Matthews was halfway down the line when the ball was caught, and was unable to get back to tag up and score. Kevin Mench then flied out to end the inning.

Notes

  • Barajas' other career grand slam came on April 20, 2005, at Tampa Bay.
  • The A's are 4-6 midway through a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Phil Nevin's game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth caps a comeback victory for Texas.  (AP)
Phil Nevin's game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth caps a comeback victory for Texas. (AP)

Players of the Game
Texas

I. Kinsler
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 2
RBI 2
Oakland

N. Swisher
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Oakland Athletics
Mark Ellis, 2B5000013 .240
Mark Kotsay, CF5111000 .282
Bobby Crosby, SS4000030 .223
Eric Chavez, 3B4110020 .276
Frank Thomas, DH4221010 .206
Nick Swisher, LF4332000 .299
Adam Melhuse, C3000123 .259
Bobby Kielty, RF3022101 .259
Dan Johnson, 1B4011011 .182
Totals3671072108 
Batting
2B - Eric Chavez (7, Millwood), Nick Swisher (11, Millwood), Bobby Kielty 2 (4, Millwood, Bauer)
HR - Mark Kotsay (4, Millwood), Nick Swisher (14, Millwood)
RBI - Mark Kotsay (20), Frank Thomas (23), Nick Swisher 2 (37), Bobby Kielty 2 (4), Dan Johnson (6)
2-OUT RBI - Nick Swisher 2 (18), Dan Johnson (2)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Ellis-Crosby-Johnson
Oakland Athletics
Brad Halsey 5.2644421 3.60
Steve Karsay (H,2) 1322112 6.35
Kiko Calero (BS,1) 1.1111021 5.89
Huston Street (L,1-2) 0.2111011 5.28
Pitches-Strikes - Brad Halsey 105-65, Steve Karsay 27-16, Kiko Calero 29-18, Huston Street 8-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brad Halsey 7-7, Steve Karsay 2-0, Huston Street 1-0
Batters Faced - Brad Halsey 26, Steve Karsay 7, Kiko Calero 5, Huston Street 3
Texas Rangers
Gary Matthews Jr., CF3000211 .302
Michael Young, SS5010022 .328
Mark Teixeira, 1B4121111 .282
Hank Blalock, 3B4100102 .320
Phil Nevin, DH5111015 .226
Kevin Mench, LF4120003 .301
Mark DeRosa, RF3110111 .337
Rod Barajas, C4114001 .246
Ian Kinsler, 2B4232000 .520
Totals3681185616 
Batting
3B - Kevin Mench (1, Karsay)
HR - Mark Teixeira (5, Karsay), Phil Nevin (8, Street), Rod Barajas (4, Halsey), Ian Kinsler 2 (3, Karsay, Calero)
RBI - Mark Teixeira (23), Phil Nevin (28), Rod Barajas 4 (16), Ian Kinsler 2 (4)
2-OUT RBI - Phil Nevin (20), Rod Barajas 4 (6), Ian Kinsler (1)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Kevin Mench 1
Texas Rangers
Kevin Millwood 5977152 4.88
Ron Mahay 2000030 1.35
Rick Bauer 1100110 3.24
Akinori Otsuka (W,1-1) 1000010 2.53
Pitches-Strikes - Kevin Millwood 91-57, Ron Mahay 22-17, Rick Bauer 16-8, Akinori Otsuka 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kevin Millwood 6-4, Rick Bauer 1-0, Akinori Otsuka 1-1
Batters Faced - Kevin Millwood 25, Ron Mahay 6, Rick Bauer 4, Akinori Otsuka 3
Game Information
Attendance - 22006
Game Time - 2:54
Temperature - 89
Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Tim Welke, Second Base - Kerwin Danley, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom