Rangers keep the good vibes rolling

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Less than a week ago, the Texas Rangers had lost nine of 11 games and were mired in one of the worst top-to-bottom hitting slumps that catcher A.J. Pierzynski had ever witnessed.

"For a while there, I'd never been on a team where every guy felt bad about themselves when they were at the plate," Pierzynski said Friday night.

And now? The good vibes are rolling throughout the Rangers' batting order and throughout the entire team.

Getting two-run homers from Nelson Cruz and Jurickson Profar, the Rangers hammered the Oakland A's 8-3 on Friday night. The Rangers won their fifth straight game and cut the Oakland Athletics' lead in the AL West to 2½ games.

"It's baseball," Pierzynski said. "There's no explanation for any of this stuff."

How you can explain what the Rangers accomplished before they embarked on this 10-game trip? They beat the Los Angeles Angels three straight times on three straight walk-off home runs, then they crushed the Arizona Diamondbacks in a make-up game Thursday.

"Hopefully we can keep this thing rolling," said Rangers left-hander Jason Frasor, who pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings of relief to get the victory. "That Anaheim series certainly gave us some momentum.

"It's just a miracle that something like that can even happen. Just how things have to line up for that to occur. Yeah, that was special. We're still chasing these guys. I don't think these guys are going anywhere. They can pitch. They have timely hitting. It's going to come down to the wire. It really does feel that way."

The Rangers pounded 12 hits, getting contributions up and down the lineup. Leonys Martin, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Pierzynski each had two hits. Andrus extended his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in the majors.

"We feel good," Andrus said. "I think everything started going the right way. We're having great at-bats, quality at-bats. Our pitching just keeps doing what they're doing the whole season. It's a lot of fun right now."

Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers' hitters are "finally putting it together. It's been happening the past five games up and down the lineup. That's what it takes. When we're putting runs on the board, that's what we do. We do it up and down the lineup."

Cruz continues to produce despite the pressure of reportedly facing an impending suspension for his alleged involvement with Biogenesis, a Miami clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of major league players.

"It's still hard," Cruz said. "It's hard to deal with it."

Hard but, obviously, not impossible.

"Very impressive," Washington said. "He's been swinging the bat like that all year. It seems like every time we need something, he comes through for us."

Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando lasted only four innings, giving up three runs while walking five and striking out one. After Ogando threw 92 pitches, Washington turned to his bullpen. Robbie Ross, Frasor, Tanner Scheppers, Neal Cotts and Joakim Soria combined to blank the A's for the final five innings on three hits.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Frasor replaced Ross and retired Alberto Callaspo on a fly ball to center field.

"I think we did a hell of a job piecing it together," Frasor said. "I think everybody in the stadium could feel that when they brought me in that was a pretty big situation. I don't know if you guys saw the warmup pitches, but I bounced all eight. I thought to myself, 'I've upset the umpire because he had to give me a new ball eight times. It was a miracle that I got the first-pitch strike and then another one and got the fly out. But it worked out."