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OAK@TEX: A's lose on a walk-off home run in the ninth

ARLINGTON -- Andrew Bailey leaned against a chair in the A's clubhouse after an excruciating 7-6 loss to the Rangers on Saturday and pretty much told it like it was.

Against a great hitter, you have to get ahead in the count, especially with a one-run lead, one out from a much-needed victory.

Instead, Bailey started Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton with two balls. The next pitch was a fastball, and Hamilton crushed Bailey's offering into the second deck at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for a two-run walk-off home run, handing the A's a gut-wrenching loss to the American League West division leaders.

It was a storybook ending for Hamilton, who on Thursday tossed a ball into the stands toward a Texas firefighter who tumbled over the railing in front of him and fell about 20 feet to concrete below. The man, Shannon Stone, died from injuries sustained during the fall.

For the A's, who also have had an emotional three days, it was a brutal loss that dropped them to 39-52 on the season and 11 games out of first place.

"You can't fall behind that guy 2-0," Bailey said. "Obviously, he's one of the best players in the game. You just can't put yourself in that position. Obviously, he's looking fastball, and I'm just looking to get back in the count. He put a good swing on it, and we lost."

Bailey got the first two outs of the bottom of the ninth easily, getting Endy Chavez to ground out to third and Ian Kinsler to fly out to center. A pivotal moment came next.

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus hit a grounder into the hole between first and second base. First baseman Conor Jackson started for the ball but retreated to first as second baseman Jemile Weeks got to the ball. Weeks then made a throw that appeared to have too much air under it, and Jackson couldn't come up with the errant toss. To make matters worse, Andrus crashed into Jackson, who was examined by team trainers before staying in the game.

"I hit it in the right spot," said Andrus, who was credited with a single. "I bust myself as hard as I can to get to first base. If Weeks made a good throw, that wouldn't even have been a close play."

A's manager Bob Melvin was reluctant to criticize Weeks after the game, even though replays showed he had a chance to get Andrus with a stronger throw.

"It was just one of those in-between plays," Melvin said. "I haven't had a chance [to see a replay]."

Whatever the case, it brought up Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, who hit the second walk-off homer of his career. Hamilton's drive sailed 435 feet into the home run porch in right field.

"He's like he always is," Melvin said.

Before Hamilton's dramatics, it seemed that Coco Crisp would be the hero of the night. His solo home run on a 2-0 pitch from Rangers reliever Tommy Hunter in the top of the seventh gave the A's a 6-5 lead. It was Crisp's first road home run of the season.

"[Coco] has a lot of experience," Melvin said. "He's faced a lot of pitchers. He knows how to set up guys to an extent. He's a smart hitter, and he hits good pitching."

Melvin said before Saturday's penultimate game before the All-Star break that the A's have to find a way to score more runs if they're going to get back in the AL West.

The A's jumped to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Josh Willingham, playing in his third game since coming off the disabled list, started the inning with a home run to left field. David DeJesus walked with one out, and after Chris Carter flied out to left, Landon Powell singles to right to keep the inning alive.

Cliff Pennington and Weeks had RBI singles to right field for a 3-0 lead. Hideki Matsui then reached on catcher's interference with the bases loaded to force in another run. Matsui was credited with an RBI.

A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy allowed a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI double by Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba. But the A's got the run back in the top of the fifth on Scott Sizemore's single for a 5-1 lead.

McCarthy, a former Ranger, couldn't hold the lead. He allowed a four-run fifth inning, giving up four hits, the big blow a solo home run by Adrian Beltre to tie the game at 5.

McCarthy only threw 87 pitches, but Melvin said he tired during the long fifth inning. McCarthy is now winless in his last nine starts.

"I feel like they squared a lot of balls up tonight," McCarthy said, "some for outs, some for hits. I know they're a good hitting team, but I need to go back to the video and to see what exactly happened. I need to do a better job of eliminating what happened there in the fifth."

The A's have a game before the All-Star break to turn things around -- they have lost eight of their past 11 games.

Saturday's loss, though, was a tough one to get over.

"Obviously, it's real rough," Bailey said. "You come into this series with high hopes of winning three out of four or sweeping them going into the break and right back in the division. You lose the first two, and you're in position to win the third one. I've got to get the job done, and I just didn't." Comments