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TEX@OAK: Rangers drop tough game on walk-off homer

OAKLAND -- Rangers reliever Darren Oliver stood at his locker with a cold beverage in hand and ice pack on a shoulder that threw exactly one pitch in the game. He didn't make excuses.

"I was trying to get ahead with a fastball," Oliver said. "That's pretty much it. The old guys let us down today. More often than not we're going to get the job done, but today wasn't our day."

There was far more to the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Athletics on Monday afternoon than Arthur Rhodes giving up a game-tying home run to Josh Willingham in the eighth and Oliver allowing a walk-off home run to Hideki Matsui in the 10th. The Rangers' inability to hit with runners in scoring position also had something to do with it.

But those were the two big blows that sent Texas to its sixth loss in eight games and 10th loss in 16 games. This was also the Rangers' third walk-off loss on the road this season, it was their first loss in 17 games when leading after seven innings and it left them 0-4 in games that were tied after eight innings.

"You're going to give up runs," Rhodes said. "I just didn't make my pitches. If I make my pitches, we're still up, 4-3. I left a changeup up. It happens. You hang pitches, they're going to get hit. We've got to go out and do a better job. It was a tough series, but we've got to keep our heads up and get ready for Seattle."

The Athletics' late-inning rally kept Derek Holland from getting his fourth victory. He allowed eight hits and two walks, but the Athletics were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position against him and 1-for-12 in the game.

"Too many walks," Holland said. "That's the thing that I was aggravated with more than anything. I made my pitches when I had to, but I've got to make more pitches so I don't give away any free bases."

Holland left with a 4-3 lead. It could have been more. The Rangers were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. They had two extra-base hits -- doubles from Michael Young and Julio Borbon. All four of their runs were unearned because of errors by Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy.

"We're grinding right now," Young said. "We're battling and playing hard, but we're not getting the breaks. We need to stay with it and do the things we need to do, and we'll turn it around. Just keep playing our game, and things will fall our way. We have a lot of talent and we play the game right. That's a good combination."

Young had the only hit with runners in scoring position, a two-run double in the third inning that gave Texas a 2-1 lead. Kurt Suzuki tied it for the Athletics in the fourth with a home run, and the Rangers regained the lead in the fifth on sacrifice flies by Young and Adrian Beltre. That made it 4-2, and Oakland got one in the fifth after an error by shortstop Elvis Andrus on Daric Barton's grounder. Willingham made Texas pay with a one-out run-scoring double.

But Holland retired the next two hitters on grounders to third baseman Chris Davis, keeping it a 4-3 game. He also retired seven of the final eight hitters he faced before turning it over to Rhodes in the eighth.

"I thought he did a great job getting us through seven," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We were right where we wanted to be. I had the right guys, we just didn't get it done."

Washington is firm in his conviction that Oliver and Rhodes are the right guys, especially with Neftali Feliz in the bullpen.

"That's what I got in the bullpen," Washington said. "I expect those guys to get it done. I'm not going to cause a ruckus, we've got to keep battling. We're getting tested, and I expect us to fight through this and come out the other side."

The plan was for Rhodes to pitch the eighth and Oliver the ninth, then get on a plane to Seattle. Willingham's home run changed the plan. Right-hander Cody Eppley, despite two walks, got the Rangers through the ninth. But with two left-handed hitters due up in the 10th, Washington went with Oliver. Matsui was up first and David DeJesus was up third.

Oliver never got to DeJesus -- he threw one pitch and the game was over. Matsui had been 1-for-10 with a single and four strikeouts in his previous encounters with Oliver.

"I've faced him several times in the past, so I have a pretty good idea of what kind of pitches he throws, so I was looking for a fastball, and I pretty much got it where I expected," Matsui said through translator Roger Kahlon.

The home run gave the Athletics their third win in four games against the Rangers and left them feeling pretty good about things.

"It lets them know what we can do," A's manager Bob Geren said. "I think they obviously respect our talent, and we respect them as they are the defending AL champions, but to have this type of game and walk off in style like that definitely helps in a lot of different ways -- psychologically and in the standings."

Rhodes, like Oliver, remained stoic and philosophical about the afternoon.

"There's no reason to hit the panic button," Rhodes said. "It's way too early. We're going to be fine."

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