OAKLAND -- It was just a little more than a month ago when C.J. Wilson followed up his anti-Oakland comments with a dominating win over the A's on the mound he publicly claimed to despise.
Brandon McCarthy was the losing pitcher that day but on Wednesday earned the chance to even things out with his former teammate, who entered the matchup riding a three-game win streak against the A's.
Per usual, Wilson dealt. But McCarthy was better and seemingly appeared to exit as the victor.
"McCarthy was awesome," Wilson said. "He looked really good. That's the best he's thrown against us this year."
By night's end, though, neither were factors in a 3-2 A's loss, as the normally untouchable right-handed bullpen arm of Grant Balfour surrendered two decisive eighth-inning home runs to Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton, putting a damper on a day that earlier had celebrated A's manager Bob Melvin's three-year contract extension.
The deal will keep Melvin in Oakland through at least the 2014 season, bringing stability to an A's club that has lost six of its last eight games to fall a season-low 17 games under .500. The latest loss marked the A's 12th in 13 against the Rangers, who have become something of an annoyance.
"It's not fun going through this year with them, with them just continually beating us and finding different ways to do it," McCarthy said. "It's something we should know going into the offseason that we have to take it to their level. It should be good for us in terms of motivation and know what it is we have to look up to, but over the course of the season it's starting to get a little old."
More bad than good has obviously come out of Oakland this year, but McCarthy and Balfour have taken up residence in the latter category. Wednesday's happenings, at least for Balfour, were of the rare sort, as the righty was previously perfect against the Rangers this season in seven innings.
Moreover, he entered the day with a 3-0 record and 1.84 ERA in 24 career outings against Texas, with just two Rangers going deep off him during that span. One happened to be Kinsler, who is now 2-for-9 with two home runs in his career against the hard-throwing Australian.
"He's going to throw his fastball," Melvin said. "He's proud of his fastball, and he'll throw it to anybody."
So that's exactly what he did.
"Both fastballs," Balfour said. "A 3-2 pitch to Kinsler, up and out over the plate. I need to make a better pitch there. The one to Hamilton, I thought it was actually a pretty good pitch. I was trying to go in on him and got it in there, and just a good piece of hitting. Guy's a good hitter. I was kind of surprised he hit that pitch out. Thought I made a good pitch, guess it wasn't good enough."
Said Kinsler: "He's got a good fastball. That's his strength and he went with his strength. He's got me out with it a handful of times. I didn't think it was going out. Balls weren't going out tonight, but fortunately I had enough strength to get it over the wall."
The Texas infielder's blast -- a leadoff shot to left field -- erased a 2-1 Oakland lead, while Hamilton's -- a one-out homer to right field -- pushed the Rangers ahead for good, slimming their magic number to three and taking away from yet another stellar performance for McCarthy.
The A's right-hander, who in his last two starts against Texas gave up a combined eight earned runs in 9 1/3 innings, surrendered just one through seven innings on Wednesday, giving up six hits with one strikeout while throwing 60 of his 79 pitches for strikes.
"I think I got away with a couple things, a few pitches I wasn't really thrilled with that they fortunately hit to somebody," McCarthy said. "But as a whole I felt like I was able to work a good pace, throw a lot of strikes and stay ahead of guys. Generally that's a good recipe for success."
Wilson, meanwhile, was nearly flawless through the first three innings, allowing just one baserunner via a free pass, before allowing the first A's hit in the fourth on Jemile Weeks' leadoff single.
Weeks was responsible for helping the A's erase a 1-0 deficit by posting a two-spot in the fifth, when he and fellow rookie Brandon Allen collected RBI hits off Wilson, who lasted six innings and walked three while fanning eight.
"It was nice to be able to get some runs off him because we've seen him really good this year and, early in the game, I don't know if we've seen him better," Melvin said. "He was using both sides of the plate, backdoor cutter right on the black and pitching in to open the plate, and then we were able to get some great at-bats and get a lead off him."
It was one that proved too close for comfort, though.
"Tonight I take the loss for the team," Balfour said. "McCarthy had a great outing, and you knew it was going to be a tight game with two pitchers like that on the mound. I expect better of myself, and I just didn't perform.
"I'll be back out there, though. Life of a reliever, right?"