Rangers grind out at-bats to gain on A's

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers took down the Oakland Athletics and starter Tommy Milone like prize fighters in Wednesday's promising 9-4 victory.

The Rangers hit Milone with body blows in the bottom of the fifth, retaking the lead. They delivered the knockout blow with a four-run sixth inning.

The Rangers also made it two out of three wins over the A's, pushing them back within two games in the American League West and giving themselves a chance to win the four-game series on Thursday afternoon.

It looked like Oakland might get the Rangers again when Justin Grimm walked two A's and allowed a three-run home run to Chris Young -- batting .186 coming into the game -- to give Oakland a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth.

The resurgent Rangers took the lead right back. They made Milone throw 38 pitches as seven Rangers batted in the bottom of the fifth inning and saw at least five pitches.

To make things even better, the Rangers scored runs on productive outs. Ian Kinsler had a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3. Nelson Cruz, batting in the No. 3 spot in the lineup for the first time in three years, made it 4-3 Rangers on a fielder's choice. Leonys Martin, who had singled in the inning, scored on a pretty slide around A's catcher Derek Norris for the go-ahead run.

Getting worked over in the inning -- even though the Rangers left two men on base -- impacted Milone in the next inning, as he gave the Rangers a chance for a big inning.

"Early on he was throwing his fastballs," Cruz said. "We got a look at him the second time around and started seeing more pitches. We were able to get something going off of him."

The Rangers hammered out six hits in the sixth inning, scoring four runs. The rally started at the bottom of the lineup.

Robinson Chirinos, playing in his first game since being called up Tuesday -- and filling in at first base -- led off the inning with a single. David Murphy, batting eighth for the seventh time this season, had a single to put Milone out of the game.

The Rangers feasted off A's reliever Dan Otero. Martin, batting .500 for his last five games, followed with an RBI single to make it 5-3 Rangers.

The Rangers kept tacking on runs, which they haven't done much of lately. Kinsler had an RBI single, taking Otero back up the middle for a 6-3 lead. After Elvis Andrus was robbed of a hit, Cruz had an infield hit for a 7-3 lead. Adrian Beltre doubled down the left-field line for an 8-3 lead.

It was an atypical type of inning for the Rangers, who haven't produced much lately.

"Any time the lineup produces from the bottom, it sets the table for the guys at the top," Murphy said. "We had a grinder mentality. We put together some great at-bats."

The Rangers had 14 hits, their most since they had the same number in a 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 30. That was also the last time they scored nine runs.

Grimm, who was out after five innings, became the first starter to win a game since Derek Holland did so on May 31, ending a 17-game winless streak by the rotation.

The Rangers turned a corner Monday in ending a six-game losing streak with an 8-7 victory. They took one step closer to being all the way back Wednesday night.

"It was a team effort," Cruz said. "We feel good about ourselves. We're getting on a roll right now."