A's pitching roughed up by Rangers

A's pitching roughed up by Rangers

OAKLAND -- Joe Blanton wasn't in a very agreeable mood on Saturday.

He disagreed with A's manager Ken Macha's decision to lift him with two on and one out in the sixth inning when a double-play ball would have gotten him out of trouble, and he disagreed with Macha's assessment of his afternoon.

All of which put pitching coach Curt Young in an uneasy position after Oakland's furious ninth-inning rally fell short and the visiting Rangers snapped the A's five-game winning streak with a 10-8 victory at McAfee Coliseum.

"I'm kind of in the middle here," Young admitted. "You've got your guy out on the mound wanting one thing, but you also have the manager managing the game. Sometimes the two don't mix.

"Joe's a competitor, though. I like that about him. He'll be fine."

Trailing 3-1 in the sixth, Blanton gave up a double to one-man wrecking crew Hank Blalock, and Alfonso Soriano followed with a single. Young ran out of the dugout to put Blanton in a damage-control frame of mind, and the youngster responded by striking out Kevin Mench.

Macha then bounced out of Oakland's dugout and quickly motioned toward the bullpen, and Blanton's body language -- hands on hips, eyes anywhere but in Macha's direction --left little doubt as to how he felt about the move.

Nor did his words.

"I still felt pretty good," he said. "One [good] pitch and we're out of [the inning]. ... I'd have liked to stay in there."

Kiko Calero took over for Blanton and walked Gary Matthews Jr. to load the bases before Richard Hidalgo smoked a two-run double into the right-center gap. Sandy Alomar Jr. followed with a run-scoring groundout, and Mench's three-run homer off A's All-Star Justin Duchscherer an inning later gave the Rangers just enough to hold off Oakland's late charge.

Blanton, who was pitching for the first time in 10 days, said he felt "a little stronger than normal" on Saturday and blamed command problems with his two-seam fastball for a pitch count of 94 through 5 1/3 innings.

Macha said Blanton's curveball was at the root of his shortest outing since May 30. Blalock's solo homer in the second, Michael Young's solo shot in the third and Matthews' RBI single in the third all came on curves.

"Their first three runs were all on bad breaking balls," Macha said.

Said Blanton, bluntly: "Not really."

"The pitch to Young, I put it right where I wanted it, but he stayed back on it pretty good," Blanton explained. "And the one to Blalock wasn't terrible. He's just a good hitter."

On that, Blanton and Macha heartily agreed. Blaock was 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles before one-hopping a bullet at third baseman Eric Chavez that started an inning-ending double play in the eighth.

"Blalock was certainly a task, trying to get him out today," Macha said. "He was up there letting it rip every time. Even the double-play ball was crushed."

Blanton, the American League Rookie of the Month for June, fell to 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA in July. He was charged with five earned runs on six hits and two walks.

"[Catcher Jason] Kendall thought he had good stuff today. I thought he had good stuff, too," Young said. "But Texas, they can hit a little. Joe's gonna be fine."

Rangers All-Star lefty Kenny Rogers, meanwhile, improved to 20-1 in Oakland since a loss here in August 1994. It wasn't until he left after seven innings of six-hit work that the A's offense went to work.

"He does a nice job of keeping guys honest," Macha said. "He'll get guys looking for that outside corner and then cut it in on 'em, and when he needs to he can turn it up a notch and give you a 90-plus fastball inside. ... He's one of the best guys in the league for a reason."

Jay Payton, who homered Friday in his first at-bat since being acquired in a Wednesday trade with the Red Sox, homered again Saturday to put the A's on the board in the fifth inning, and Jason Kendall hit an RBI double and scored on an error in the sixth.

Oakland rallied for five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, getting a two-run double from Keith Ginter and RBI singles from Bobby Kielty, Mark Ellis and Mark Kotsay, but Rangers closer Francisco Cordero got Bobby Crosby on a grounder to short with a runner at first to pick up the save.

"One thing you can say about today is that there was no quit in that dugout," Macha said. "I thought that comeback was tremendous."

Payton, Kendall and Eric Chavez each had two hits for the A's, who have won 15 of their past 19 games and can pick up their 12th series win in 14 tries with a victory in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.