Pinch hitter keys Athletics' rally

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- No matter who leaves the Oakland Athletics, they never seem to lose their flair for the dramatic.

Pinch-hitter Eric Byrnes hit a two-run double with two outs in the eighth as the A's rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers in their season opener Monday night.

Byrnes, who began the season on the bench after a breakout 2003 season, connected against Ron Mahay and rookie Bobby Crosby scored the go-ahead run. Byrnes still has six stitches above his left eye from getting hit by a pitch Friday in an exhibition game in San Francisco.

"Every opportunity you get to go out there is a little bit of a campaign, so I definitely appreciate it," Byrnes said. "I just want to play. I've said it all along."

Jermaine Dye doubled and singled and drove in two runs for the two-time defending AL West champion A's, who lost emotional leader and 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada to free agency in December.

Tejada and fellow MVP Jason Giambi always seemed to provide the important hits for a franchise that specialized in comeback victories in recent years. It looks as though things won't change.

"I didn't get any hits, but when I scored that run, I felt like I had five," Crosby said. "My heart's still pounding. ... I was telling the guys I don't need this my first night. I almost had a heart attack."

New Oakland closer Arthur Rhodes pitched the ninth for his first save, and Chad Bradford finished the eighth for the win.

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer in the seventh to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead. He had three RBI. Michael Young added two hits and drove in a run after signing a four-year, $10 million contract extension with the Rangers earlier in the day. Young is the new starter at shortstop after $252 million man Alex Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees in February.

Texas has finished last in the division the past four seasons, but it played well for most of its first game without A-Rod.

Alfonso Soriano, who came to Texas in the Rodriguez trade, reached base three times but also made an error in his Rangers debut. Because of his connection to the Yankees, Soriano was booed by the sellout crowd of 45,122 every time he came to the plate.

Texas starter Kenny Rogers, a 39-year-old lefty, pitched seven strong innings, allowing three runs and six hits, striking out four and walking three, but Jeff Nelson (0-1) and Mahay couldn't hold the lead.

"I had an inning there where I couldn't get it to the plate," Rogers said. "I couldn't get a feel. I was all over the place a little bit early. I had no clue where my release point was, and that made it more difficult."

A's right-hander Tim Hudson was shaky in his third career Opening Day start. Hudson, a 16-game winner last season, gave up two runs and six hits in five innings, striking out three and walking three.

Hudson walked Teixeira on a full count with the bases loaded in the third inning to bring in a run.

Hudson hit Soriano with two outs, then allowed a single to Brad Fullmer before walking Teixeira in a 32-pitch inning.

Rogers had almost an identical sequence in the bottom half of the inning -- walking Eric Karros to score a run after hitting Erubiel Durazo one batter earlier.

Young singled up the middle between shortstop Crosby and second baseman Marco Scutaro in the third. Both infielders hesitated to go for the ball, allowing it to get through -- a sign the A's middle infielders aren't quite in sync yet. It was on a similar play last month that Crosby collided with second baseman Mark Ellis, who dislocated his shoulder. He is sidelined for at least two months.

Bobby Kielty doubled and singled in his A's debut. Kielty, the new left fielder, batted .317 this spring and could be a big bat Oakland needs.

That is, along with Dye.

Dye hit an RBI double to right in the first to get Oakland on the board, and he pumped his right fist when he stepped on the base. The A's are hoping for big things from Dye, their big-money right fielder, after his 2003 season was cut short by two injuries.

He hit .172 with four homers and 20 RBI last season while battling two injuries, but he had a team-leading 20 RBI this spring.

Game notes
Hudson threw 106 pitches, 63 for strikes. ... Rogers hasn't lost in the Coliseum since Aug. 7, 1994. ... Texas RF Brian Jordan, on the 15-day DL with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, hit off the tee. "That's a good sign," manager Buck Showalter said. ... New A's utilityman Mark McLemore joined the team Monday after signing a one-year contract a day earlier. "It's exciting," the 39-year-old said. "These guys are competitors. That's what keeps me going in my advanced age -- competition. They don't talk about winning, they do it."