|Oakland (65-64) «||0||0||1||1||2||3||0||0||1||8||12||0|
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Gio Gonzalez provided quite a follow-up to Dallas Braden, going to a near extreme to copy his Oakland teammate while pitching the Athletics to a series-clinching victory over AL West-leading Texas.
A day after Braden threw a shutout, Gonzalez limited the Rangers to two runs over six innings Sunday to win his third straight start, an 8-2 victory that cut Oakland's division deficit to 7½ games.
|More on Rangers|
"I was just trying to follow in the footsteps behind a guy who pitched a great game," Gonzalez said. "The Rangers are a great hitting team, but we've been doing our homework. We sat down and went through it with Dallas. He gave me a pep talk on each one of them and it worked."
Gonzalez (12-8) left with a 7-2 lead after throwing 65 of his 95 pitches for strikes on another hot day in Texas. The left-hander, now 7-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 day games this season, even talked to the baseball -- a La Braden.
"I had a pep talk with the baseball today ... It's the first time. I guess he's rubbing off too much on me," Gonzalez said. "After Hamilton's homer, I got the ball and started yelling at it. 'C'mon, do your job.' Then the baseball told me to calm down. I'm losing my mind."
Josh Hamilton drove in both Texas runs, with a two-out bloop RBI single in the third and his 31st homer in the sixth. Hamilton has five homers his past 10 games and raised his majors-best batting average to .359.
Hamilton's 403-foot blast off the facade of the second deck of seats in right field was the only homer Gonzalez allowed his last seven starts.
Lewis missed on his eighth attempt to get his 10th victory, and six of the season-high seven runs he gave up in 5 2/3 innings were earned. The unearned run came after his throwing error on what should have been an inning-ending double play.
"You have a job to do, period. Apparently, I didn't do it today," Lewis said. "I didn't make pitches when I needed to, and of course didn't make a play when I needed to. Definitely, I take that burden."
There is only one more series between the AL West's top two teams the final five weeks of the regular season. That is a four-game set Sept. 23-26 at Oakland, which has an 8-7 series lead after winning the pitching gems by Braden and Gonzalez.
"Don't count us out yet. We're still fighting," Gonzalez said.
"Nobody's given up on this. Everybody's trying to win every single game. These guys fight all the time," manager Bob Geren said when asked if his team could catch Texas. "If our offense continues to swing the bats the way they are and match the great pitching we have, then yes, definitely."
Lewis had his shortest outing since pitching only five innings July 16 at Boston when he got his ninth victory. Lewis is 0-6 since and Texas has scored only eight runs while he was on the mound in those eight games.
"We got outpitched today, got outpitched yesterday. Pitching stops everything," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We lost two games, that's all it was."
Oakland went ahead to stay when Ellis broke a 1-all tie with his third homer, a towering flyball that dropped just beyond the 14-foot wall in left-center field.
The A's scored twice in the fifth for a 4-1 lead after Lewis' throwing error on Kurt Suzuki's comebacker. Lewis threw the ball way wide of second base and into center. Pennington scored and Daric Barton moved from first to third before then scoring on an inning-ending double play.
"It was just a normal play ... I just didn't make the throw," Lewis said. "I don't think it was the turning point. I gave up eight hits, two of them hard-hit. That was it. They singled me to death."
First baseman Jorge Cantu then snagged Jack Cust's hard grounder at the bag, wiping out the force at second. Suzuki got caught up between first and second and avoided being tagged long enough for Barton to score.
Kouzmanoff led off the sixth with his 12th homer, before consecutive singles set up Pennington's squeeze bunt and Coco Crisp's RBI single to chase Lewis.
|Gio Gonzalez bags his third consecutive win to help the A's stay in contention for the AL West. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Coco Crisp, CF||4||0||2||1||1||2||1||.274|
|Daric Barton, 1B||2||1||0||1||2||0||1||.279|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||5||0||0||0||0||1||4||.245|
|Jack Cust, DH||4||1||1||0||1||1||3||.275|
|Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B||5||1||2||1||0||2||1||.262|
|Mark Ellis, 2B||5||1||2||1||0||0||1||.252|
|Jeff Larish, LF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.222|
|Gabe Gross, PR-RF||1||1||0||0||0||1||1||.236|
|a- Matt Carson, PH-RF||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||.195|
|Rajai Davis, RF-LF||5||2||2||0||0||2||2||.274|
|Cliff Pennington, SS||2||1||2||1||1||0||0||.256|
|a-hit a sacrifice fly for Gross in the 9th|
|2B - Rajai Davis (22, Lewis)|
|HR - Kevin Kouzmanoff (12, Lewis), Mark Ellis (3, Lewis)|
|SF - Daric Barton (5), Matt Carson (2)|
|SH - Cliff Pennington (9)|
|RBI - Coco Crisp (29), Daric Barton (46), Kevin Kouzmanoff (65), Mark Ellis (34), Matt Carson (4), Cliff Pennington (35)|
|2-OUT RBI - Coco Crisp (12)|
|SB - Cliff Pennington (23, 2nd base off Lewis/Molina)|
|CS - Cliff Pennington (5, 3rd base by Ogando/Molina)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|DP - Pennington-Ellis-Barton, Kouzmanoff-Ellis-Barton|
|Gio Gonzalez (W,12-8)||6||5||2||2||1||4||1||3.23|
|Pitches-Strikes - Gio Gonzalez 95-64, Craig Breslow 27-17, Michael Wuertz 11-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gio Gonzalez 6-7, Craig Breslow 2-3, Michael Wuertz 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Gio Gonzalez 23, Craig Breslow 6, Michael Wuertz 3|
|Andres Blanco, SS||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.258|
|Michael Young, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.285|
|Josh Hamilton, LF||3||1||2||2||1||0||0||.359|
|Vladimir Guerrero, DH||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.299|
|Jorge Cantu, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||3||1||.255|
|David Murphy, RF||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.274|
|Bengie Molina, C||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.241|
|Alex Cora, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.206|
|Julio Borbon, CF||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||.267|
|HR - Josh Hamilton (31, G. Gonzalez)|
|SH - Andres Blanco (2)|
|RBI - Josh Hamilton 2 (95)|
|2-OUT RBI - Josh Hamilton (30)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|DP - Cantu-Blanco|
|E - Colby Lewis (3, Throwing), Michael Young (19, Dropped fly)|
|Colby Lewis (L,9-11)||5.2||8||7||6||3||7||2||3.61|
|Pitches-Strikes - Colby Lewis 91-61, Michael Kirkman 16-10, Alexi Ogando 21-13, Matt Harrison 16-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Colby Lewis 6-5, Matt Harrison 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Colby Lewis 29, Michael Kirkman 5, Alexi Ogando 4, Matt Harrison 6|
|Attendance - 37188|
|Game Time - 2:46|
|Temperature - 92|
|Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Bill Welke, Second Base - Mike DiMuro, Third Base - Tim Welke|