ARLINGTON -- The A's have made a habit out of battling back from adversity this season, their relentless efforts on display around the clock.
So it was no surprise to anyone on the A's that they responded to a five-run deficit in the first inning the only way they know how Thursday in Texas. The A's pushed forward, collecting five home runs by game's end. Unfortunately for Oakland, the Rangers tacked on just enough in the middle to hand the A's a 9-7 loss and split the four-game series at Rangers Ballpark.
"I'll tell you what, it didn't look good early, and to battle back like we did, it's impressive to see the contributions like we had to get us to that point," manager Bob Melvin said. "There have been times we could have folded up and gotten steamrolled a bit, and we didn't even do it today, down 5-0 like that. Guys continue to play hard, and the other team feels that when we're playing that hard."
That mentality has gotten the A's to where they are despite fielding constant skepticism: four games back of Texas in the American League West, with six to play, including three against the Rangers, and currently occupying one of the two Wild Card slots.
Their lead of the second spot stands at two over the Angels, who lost to the Mariners.
"We would've loved to take three back home with us, but it's just going to take a little bit more of an effort and be a little bit more of a grind these last six games, but that's what we do," said Josh Reddick, who homered twice. "We grind and focus on winning games."
Reddick and Co. finished their grueling 10-game road swing through Detroit, New York and Texas with a 4-6 ledger, their charter finally taking them back home to the Bay. And Melvin is carrying back the same mantra with which he started the trip.
"We're just going to take it day to day," he said. "That's the way we've been doing it all year. We do know we're at the end of a long, tough trip, and we get to go home for the final six, so that's encouraging for us, that we did battle through this thing and we're still in a good position."
After plating five runs in the first on Wednesday night, the A's watched the Rangers do the same in the matinee finale, as lefty starter Travis Blackley was rocked for five runs on five hits -- two of them home runs from Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli -- before departing after just one inning in favor of reliever Jim Miller.
It marked the second straight shaky start from Blackley, who just five days prior surrendered four runs in two innings to the Yankees in place of the injured Brett Anderson.
"I get out there and I just can't put it where I want it," Blackley sad. "I'm kind of running out of ideas on what to do. Came out to the 'pen and felt great, confident, and I went out there and, I don't know, I'm actually at a loss for words. I'm just not getting it down. I'm not throwing my offspeed for strikes, I'm falling behind, and I come back and get too much of the plate.
"These guys are fighting, and I wish I could do more to help. That's what's the most frustrating feeling about it all, seeing them making these comebacks and fighting for the win and feeling helpless not to be able to help out myself, especially right now when we need it the most."
Miller proceeded to surrender two runs over the next two frames, as did righty Jeremy Accardo in his A's debut, making it difficult for the offense to catch up.
Facing Texas southpaw Matt Harrison, the A's tagged him for four runs over six innings. Reddick was responsible for the first one, as the right fielder collected his 30th homer of the season with a two-out solo shot in the second. He would get home run No. 31 in the eighth, following solo shots from Yoenis Cespedes (22) and Brandon Moss (20) in the same frame off righty Mike Adams, giving the A's three players with at least 20 home runs for the first time since 2006.
Derek Norris also homered, his two-run shot coming in the fourth.
"We're never really out of a game," Reddick said. "We're never just going to sit down and take a loss, especially after just the first inning, so we had a lot of good chances to score some runs today, we just didn't have enough shutdown innings."