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TEX@OAK: Suzuki's base hit gives the A's the lead

OAKLAND -- On any other day, a seven-inning scoreless performance against the offensive-minded Rangers in a 3-1 A's victory would automatically turn Trevor Cahill into postgame celebrity.

And on any other day, a typical RBI single off the bat of Kurt Suzuki would be a nice touch -- a helpful effort -- but not much more.

But it's not every day a baseball player gets to celebrate his new fatherhood with such a hit, as Suzuki did Friday, making him just as worthy of a gold star as Cahill, who was still rightfully applauded for his fourth win of the season as Oakland notched its second in a row.

Suzuki, who was reinstated from the paternity leave list on Friday following the Thursday birth of his daughter, Malia Grace, shook off a dazed yet anxious feeling by putting his designated hitter duties to work and placing the A's on the board first with a run-scoring single in the third off C.J. Wilson.

"It's been a long couple of days," Suzuki admitted. "It was rougher for [wife Renee], but we have a beautiful child. She's such a precious thing. It's good for me to get back out here and help the team any way I could."

"It's a huge day for anyone's life, obviously, and he was all smiles, but he was looking forward to getting back to work," manager Bob Geren said. "He came in today looking a little tired, so I thought it would be a good time to DH him, get him some swings and give him a chance to contribute offensively.

"It's an exciting time for him, and to have it happen in the middle of the season, you have to get right back into it, and he did, and he helped us win the game tonight."

Suzuki's hit plated Daric Barton, who led off the frame with a hard-hit ball to deep center field, where Texas outfielder Julio Borbon was charged with a two-base fielding error when he dropped the ball on the run.

It marked the first of three errors on the night for the Rangers, whose defensive woes were met with a sense of frustration against Cahill, who didn't even boast his best stuff in a 100-pitch effort.

Rather, his seemingly perfect night was far from that at the start. The A's righty walked three in a lengthy 26-pitch first inning, but proceeded to leave the bases loaded and scatter seven hits and one more walk over the next six frames while stranding nine total.

"His walks in the first were not out-of-control-type walks," Geren said." They were all very, very close pitches. It's a little different when a guy comes out of the bullpen, can't find the zone and he walks guys and it looks like it maybe could be a long night. But in this case, they were just missing, were a little bit down. All he had to do was make a minor adjustment, which he did perfectly."

The 23-year-old hurler is now 7-2 with a 2.27 ERA in 10 career starts against the Rangers, which is the seventh-lowest mark by an opponent with a minimum of 10 starts vs. Texas. Friday was also the fifth time in 10 starts he did not allow an earned run against the Rangers and the third time he did not allow any runs at all.

"If you look at his history against us, it's good," Rangers outfielder David Murphy said. "He throws the ball well against us, and in our division we're going to face him five or six times. He also caught us at a good time. We're not swinging the bats well top to bottom. At this point there is no reason to dissect it or over-analyze it. We just need to hit better."

The Rangers most recently watched their club batting average drop from .272 to .264 over their previous six games, but heading into Friday's contest it still represented the second-best mark in the AL.

"They're one of the best offenses in baseball, so when people come up and say you've had a lot of success against them, you don't really think of that," Cahill said. "They have a lot of guys that can hurt you. I think a lot of it is you face them so many times, so you start to learn their strengths and their weaknesses. So far, I've stuck to my strengths."

"He threw well," added Michael Young. "He made good adjustments after the first inning. But our job is to find a way to score runs no matter who the pitcher is, what ballpark we're playing in or what time of year it is. We didn't do that."

Cahill has given up 16 earned runs in 63 1/3 innings against the Rangers, and 12 of those came in the two losses.

Backed by Cahill's strong Friday showing, the A's scored three runs -- just one earned -- against Wilson, who allowed eight hits and three walks in seven innings en route to falling to 3-1.

Following Suzuki's hit in the third, the A's extended their lead by one in the fifth courtesy of back-to-back doubles from Conor Jackson and Josh Willingham, the latter whom went 2-for-4 after missing two games with back tightness.

"I felt good," Willingham said. "I just tried to relax and not do too much and see what happens."

Oakland's final run came in the seventh with help from Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who threw away a potential double-play ball from Suzuki with Barton on second and Willingham on first to allow Barton to score.

After Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless eighth, lefty Brian Fuentes surrendered a two-out RBI single to Young in the ninth but garnered the third out for his seventh save of the season, which culminated in Suzuki's very first win as a dad.

"Being able to hold your daughter for the first time, it's a tremendous feeling," he said. "She's a beautiful girl. We're all excited."

"Something like that, it puts things in perspective," said Willingham, father of two. "You can go out and have fun instead of trying too hard."

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