ARLINGTON, Texas -- Those rookies and former roommates at the bottom of the lineup for the Texas Rangers were pretty good.
Jason Botts hit his first career homer and second baseman Ian Kinsler drove in a run with a broken-bat grounder that pushed the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday night.
"That was one of the best parts of the home run. It gave us the lead and I was able to contribute in a big game," said Botts, who hit eighth ahead of Kinsler. "It's a great feeling. It seems like I'm floating right now."
The Rangers led 3-1 after Botts, the designated hitter in his 13th major league game, hit a 399-foot homer to right-center field with two outs in the second. After Oakland tied the game, Kinsler drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth.
Texas had the bases loaded in the sixth when Kinsler shattered his bat on a grounder that went only about a third of the way up the first-base line. Dan Johnson fielded the slow roller and all he could do was tag Kinsler out while Brad Wilkerson scored the go-ahead run.
"I got a lucky RBI. He threw a pretty good pitch. It almost got me on the hand," Kinsler said.
"He broke his bat. He didn't really do anything with it," Oakland starter Kirk Saarloos said. "But he put it in the perfect spot."
The Rangers won three of four in the weekend series to build a three-game lead in the AL West over Oakland, their closest competitor. The Athletics had four one-run losses during a 1-6 road trip.
"It was a mentally draining trip," manager Ken Macha said. "The positive part is we're playing real good baseball. They say these things even out. We're due some breaks."
Botts, who has split time at DH with struggling Phil Nevin since being recalled Tuesday, was 2-for-2, adding a double in the eighth after he walked twice. Kinsler was 2-for-4, raising his average to .429 (15-for-35) in his 12 major league games, the last four since returning from the disabled list from a dislocated left thumb.
"I don't think either of us is ever intimidated," said Kinsler, Botts' roommate the last three seasons in the minor leagues before making his major league debut on the opening day roster. "We talk about it all the time, being in the starting lineup. To win tonight is pretty special."
Vicente Padilla (5-3) allowed three runs and five hits over six innings. He struck out four and walked three, including two who led off innings and then scored. The game was tied when the right-hander threw his last pitch, but the Rangers led before Scott Feldman relieved to start the seventh.
Akinori Otsuka, the fourth reliever, worked a perfect ninth against Oakland's Nos. 1-3 hitters for his eighth save in nine chances.
Saarloos (2-3) allowed only four hits over seven innings, but was hurt by a career-high seven walks.
"I made a bad pitch to Botts. That one hurt us big time," Saarloos said. "A backdoor cutter that was out over the plate. I knew it was gone."
Wilkerson walked and scored twice for the Rangers, on Botts' homer in the second and on Kinsler's grounder.
After a fly ball to start the sixth, Texas loaded the bases on two walks and a single before Kinsler batted.
A 46th-round pick in 1999, Botts made his major league debut in 10 games last season. He had 10 homers in 40 games at Triple-A Oklahoma this season, and led all Rangers minor leaguers with 25 homers and 102 RBI last season.
Johnson was 0-for-4, but had RBI groundouts his first two at-bats. The A's tied the game at three in the sixth when Jason Kendall had a one-out double and scored on a single by Eric Chavez, getting a game at DH while 38-year-old Frank Thomas got a night out of the starting lineup.
Thomas pinch hit and drew a walk in the eighth off Francisco Cordero, who had already allowed two singles. Adam Melhuse, another pinch hitter, then lined out to end the inning.
Rangers SS Michael Young went 0-for-3 with a walk, extending his hitless streak to 14 at-bats -- his longest since going 0-for-14 from September 7-11, 2002. That was also the last time he was hitless in three straight games when he had an official at-bat. ... Saarloos is 0-3 with a 7.59 ERA (18 earned runs over 21 1/3 innings) in eight road games, three starts. ... Nevin has two hits in his last 25 at-bats, both home runs. ... Johnson is hitting .183 (11-for-60) over the past 18 games -- and .186 for the season.
|Players of the Game|
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|Jason Kendall, C||4||1||1||0||1||1||0||.275|
|Nick Swisher, LF||5||0||0||0||0||3||2||.301|
|Mark Kotsay, CF||4||1||1||0||1||0||1||.278|
|Eric Chavez, DH||3||1||1||1||1||0||1||.281|
|Bobby Kielty, RF||3||0||2||0||1||0||2||.262|
|Bobby Crosby, SS||3||0||2||0||0||0||0||.232|
|Dan Johnson, 1B||4||0||0||2||0||1||2||.186|
|Marco Scutaro, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.154|
|a- Frank Thomas, PH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.219|
|Mark Ellis, PR-2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.234|
|Antonio Perez, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.036|
|b- Adam Melhuse, PH-3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||3||.255|
|a-walked for Scutaro in the 8th|
|b-lined out for Perez in the 8th|
|2B - Jason Kendall (6, Padilla)|
|SH - Bobby Crosby (1)|
|RBI - Eric Chavez (36), Dan Johnson 2 (8)|
|2-OUT RBI - Eric Chavez (8)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Kirk Saarloos (L,2-3)||7||4||4||4||7||2||1||5.57|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kirk Saarloos 109-61, Kiko Calero 21-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kirk Saarloos 11-8, Kiko Calero 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Kirk Saarloos 32, Kiko Calero 5|
|Gary Matthews Jr., CF||5||0||0||0||0||1||5||.300|
|Michael Young, SS||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||.311|
|Mark Teixeira, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.284|
|Hank Blalock, 3B||3||1||1||0||1||0||1||.321|
|Kevin Mench, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.294|
|Brad Wilkerson, LF||2||2||0||0||2||0||0||.262|
|Rod Barajas, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.246|
|Jason Botts, DH||2||1||2||3||2||0||0||.500|
|Ian Kinsler, 2B||4||0||2||1||0||0||1||.429|
|2B - Hank Blalock (12, Saarloos), Jason Botts (2, Calero)|
|HR - Jason Botts (1, Saarloos)|
|RBI - Jason Botts 3 (3), Ian Kinsler (6)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jason Botts 3 (3)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Vicente Padilla (W,5-3)||6||5||3||3||3||4||0||4.57|
|Scott Feldman (H,2)||0.2||0||0||0||1||2||0||5.27|
|Ron Mahay (H,2)||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.23|
|Francisco Cordero (H,6)||0.2||2||0||0||1||1||0||6.75|
|Akinori Otsuka (S,8)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.31|
|Pitches-Strikes - Vicente Padilla 93-57, Scott Feldman 13-4, Ron Mahay 5-3, Francisco Cordero 23-14, Akinori Otsuka 8-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Vicente Padilla 9-5, Ron Mahay 1-1, Akinori Otsuka 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Vicente Padilla 26, Scott Feldman 3, Ron Mahay 2, Francisco Cordero 5, Akinori Otsuka 3|
|Attendance - 38905|
|Game Time - 2:47|
|Temperature - 86|
|Umpires - Home - Gary Cederstrom, First Base - Jim Reynolds, Second Base - Tim Welke, Third Base - Kerwin Danley|