ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kameron Loe took a simple approach in his first major league start in nearly a year. It certainly worked -- enough to baffle the Oakland Athletics.
Loe combined with four relievers on a shutout as the Texas Rangers won 7-0 on Saturday night and snapped a three-game losing skid.
"I went as long and as hard as I could," Loe said. "I was focusing on getting strike one so I could get hitters in a defensive count."
In his first major league start since last June, Loe (1-0) allowed three singles, struck out five and walked one in 5 1/3 scoreless innings to help end the A's four-game winning streak. He left with a 1-0 lead, with one out and two runners on base in the sixth inning.
C.J. Wilson, who shares an apartment with Loe, walked Nick Swisher to load the bases but struck out Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley to end the inning.
"I was pitching carefully to Swisher because he hit a home run off me last year," Wilson said. "Other than that, I just try to throw my fastball really hard, and hopefully it gets guys out."
Added Loe: "It pumped me up, C.J. coming in after me to shut the door. I gave him a big high-five when he came in."
Wilson, Joaquin Benoit, Akinori Otsuka and Eric Gagne combined on 3 2/3 hitless innings to complete the shutout.
"We really just had that one good opportunity," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "We didn't get the one big hit we needed."
In the seventh inning, the Rangers took a 2-0 lead on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s sacrifice fly. Then they put the game away with five runs in the eighth, highlighted by Matt Kata's three-run homer. Hairston, who picked up his first RBI since last August, and Kata were in the lineup because left-hander Joe Kennedy (0-2) started for Oakland.
"I would have been very pleased playing that 2-0 game," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We need a game where we hang up in there and grind it out. It was a nice present to get that three-run homer, though."
Mark Teixeira gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a single in the fourth inning, the third RBI this season for the struggling All-Star first baseman.
Hairston led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk and took off for second base as Ian Kinsler reached down for a low pitch and drove it past second baseman Mark Ellis, who was going to cover the base. Hairston hurdled the grounder and raced around to third. Teixeira's single against Kennedy then drove in Hairston.
The teams were coming off a game Friday in which Oakland scored 16 runs. Saturday's two starting pitchers had a combined two major league starts since last June, so a high-scoring game seemed likely. Instead, Loe helped right a Texas pitching staff that had allowed 28 runs and 27 walks during the three losses.
Loe began last season in the Rangers' rotation, but a 5.86 ERA and a bruised elbow sent him to the minors after the All-Star break. He thought he pitched well enough in spring training (1-0, 0.92 ERA) to win the fifth starter's job, but that went to Jamey Wright. When Wright went on the disabled list, Loe received his chance.
"It was disappointing when they told me," Loe said, "but I got over it and thought I'd be the best bullpen guy I could be."
In his five bullpen appearances, Loe was 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA.
Kennedy nearly matched Loe's performance. In five innings, he gave up three hits and three walks while striking out five. He has pitched no more than six innings in three starts since returning to Oakland's rotation this season. Kennedy didn't give up a hit until Kinsler and Teixeira singled in the fourth.
Washington, pitching coach Mark Conner and trainer Jamie Reed ran to the mound to look at Gagne in the ninth inning. Washington said, "Gagne was stretching, and it looked like something was wrong. He said, `What are you all doing out here?"' Gagne was fine. ... Nelson Cruz went 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. He has four hits in the last two nights after going 1-for-17 in the previous six games. ... None of the A's had more than one hit.