Reversal of fortune for Athletics

Reversal of fortune for Athletics

ARLINGTON -- Friday was feast, Saturday was famine. One day after erupting for a season-high 16 runs, the A's were blanked by Texas, 7-0, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"What a difference in 24 hours," Oakland manager Bob Geren said.

A's starter Joe Kennedy faced the minimum number of batters through three innings, including a 13-pitch first, but things began to unravel a bit in the fourth, when the Rangers opened the scoring on a Mark Teixeira RBI single. Kennedy was able to work his way out of the inning by striking out Sammy Sosa and enticing Hank Blalock to pop out to first base on a 3-2 offering.

The Rangers threatened again in the fifth, when Nelson Cruz opened the frame with a blast off the wall in left field. Matt Kata followed with a sacrifice bunt, and Kennedy did himself no favors by misfiring on his throw to second, leaving both Cruz and Kata aboard.

Kennedy then atoned for his mistake by striking out Gerald Laird and Jerry Hairston before Ian Kinsler popped out to end the inning with no additional damage inflicted. However, the evening was over for Kennedy, who was charged with one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks.

"I don't think I threw too many strikes." Kennedy said. "I kept the team in the ballgame, you know. I'll work on some stuff and be ready again to go in five days. Overall, I felt like I pounded the zone with the fastball a lot. And they're a very aggressive team, so I just tried to stay within myself, but with so many days off, your command is usually not there and your breaking ball and offspeed pitches are definitely not there -- and that was the case today."

The A's offense that was so explosive Friday appeared as though it might get going in the sixth, when it chased Rangers starter Kameron Loe. Mark Ellis singled, and Adam Melhuse walked before Shannon Stewart grounded out to third, moving each of the runners up a bag. Loe then made way for C.J. Wilson, who immediately walked Nick Swisher to load the bases. But Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley both struck out swinging to end the inning.

Loe's night was finished, but his damage on Oakland had been done. Geren credited Loe for his outing -- his first start of the year. Loe allowed only three hits.

"He had real good movement on the ball, and it appeared from the side that he had real good location," the A's skipper said. "His location down in the zone was great. He pitched well. We had really one good opportunity, and that was it."

Jay Witasick took over for Kennedy in the sixth and promptly retired three batters, striking out two in his one inning.

With Alan Embree on the mound in the seventh, Texas pushed across a run on Hairston's sacrifice fly, leaving the Rangers up, 2-0.

While Oakland's offense continued to sputter, the floodgates opened for Texas in the eighth. With Jay Marshall in to pitch, the Rangers belted out five hits en route to a five-run frame, highlighted by Kata's three-run blast.

Closer Eric Gagne came on for Texas in the ninth and slammed the door, preserving the shutout.

Swisher, Chavez, and Mark Ellis accounted for Oakland's three hits.

Designated hitter Todd Walker filled in for Mike Piazza, who had the day off, and was frustrated like other A's hitters.

"Their guy threw the ball really well tonight," Walker said. "He was hitting that corner. He had a lot of movement on his ball. He was tough."

Walker also knows that Saturday night's famine easily could turn into another feast on Sunday.

"That's just the nature of the game," he said. "We're likely to come out tomorrow and score another 16. That's just the way it works, you know? That's good news for days when you don't do well, because you can come the next day and it's a new day. There's bad news in the sense that we scored 16 and you know you're not going to be able to do that every day. You're bound to run into a buzz saw, and it all comes back to their guy threw extremely well tonight."

Shawn Smajstrla is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.