ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Nelson Cruz thrust his right arm into the air and shouted out in relief while running the bases after hitting his second homer of the night for the Texas Rangers.
After a tough stretch, the Rangers had a loud and clear response Monday night to the message manager Ron Washington delivered the previous day.
Cruz homered twice and the Rangers ended a six-game losing streak with an 8-7 victory over the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics, matching their run total during what had been the majors’ longest active skid.
“We were looking for what happened, get some base hits in RBI situations and just keep grinding,” Washington said. “They just showed what they have the capability of doing — what they did tonight. That was the only thing that I stressed to them.”
Washington had a rare postgame meeting with his team after the Rangers were swept in a four-game series by Toronto, extending their longest home losing streak since 2005. That was part of a 4-11 stretch that dropped them out of first place.
Cruz’s second homer was a two-run shot onto the hill in straightaway center field on an 0-2 pitch from Jesse Chavez (1-1) in the fifth. Cruz emphatically responded while rounding the bases on his 18th homer of the season, and second in two innings. It came right after A.J. Pierzynski’s RBI double and put the Rangers up 7-6.
“It was the run we need in that situation. It was very emotional,” Cruz said. “In our minds, we believe we can do it. We showed what we’re capable of doing.”
Oakland, which entered the four-game series opener with a three-game division lead over Texas, wiped out an early 3-0 deficit with a six-run fourth ignited by a bizarre play before Neal Cotts (3-1) worked 2 1-3 perfect innings in relief of rookie Nick Tepesch.
Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers each worked 1-2-3 innings, then Joe Nathan gave up a run before securing his 21st save in 22 chances.
After being held to two runs or less in a team record-matching six games in a row, the Rangers took care of that in the first three innings. Pierzynski pulled a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole in the second, an inning before an RBI double by Ian Kinsler. That was Kinsler’s first hit in 10 at-bats since coming off the disabled list Saturday after missing 25 games with a rib cage injury.
The Rangers’ eight runs and 12 hits were both their most in 16 games this month.
In the Oakland fourth, Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder that ricocheted off third baseman Adrian Beltre toward shortstop. Elvis Andrus was about to throw to first when he saw John Jaso running in front of him toward third.
Andrus threw to Beltre, who made a swiping attempt at a tag. Jaso, sliding headfirst in front of him, lifted his arm into the air trying to avoid the tag and then dived into the base with his left hand. He was called safe by third base umpire Jordan Baker even though it appeared his hand came off the bag while being tagged. Beltre was irate and Washington also came out to argue the call.
“It’s a little odd that the umpire can miss the call twice. … He’s right on top of the play and he still missed it,” Beltre said. “I got him twice. I know that, because I did it myself, and I went to see the replay to confirm. The replay showed I tagged him twice. I don’t know what he saw.”
Tepesch then allowed three hits and a walk to the next four hitters, including a two-run single by Seth Smith, who scored on Jed Lowrie’s double. Eric Sogard had a sacrifice fly and Coco Crisp’s RBI single made it 6-3 and chased Tepesch.
“He made some good pitches in the bottom of the strike zone, and they went down there and they got them and they found holes,” Washington said.
Oakland rookie Dan Straily had a 2.21 ERA in his previous five starts, a stretch that began at Texas on May 21 when the right-hander worked seven scoreless innings and faced 22 batters — one more than the minimum for that span — in a 1-0 win over Yu Darvish.
Straily hadn’t allowed a homer in his last six starts and 38 innings until Pierzynski went deep. The first of Cruz’s two homers came off him as well.
Cruz was the first batter faced by Chavez when he took over for Straily, who allowed six runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings.
“I was up in the strike zone. They were aggressive and I just got beat, plain and simple,” Straily said. “Swing early and often. I feel like everyone up there was trying to swing out of their shoes on every single pitch. They got me, that’s all there is to it.”
NOTES: Cespedes started his fourth consecutive game as Oakland’s DH after missing two games because of left hamstring tightness. Manager Bob Melvin wants to see him in the field during batting practice before putting him back in the outfield. … Rangers starting pitchers have gone 16 games in a row without a victory this month, matching a team record set in 1975. … It was Cruz’s 10th career multihomer game.