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Gaudin continues to struggle vs. Texas

Gaudin continues to struggle vs. Texas

ARLINGTON -- Some things just aren't meant to be together. Oil and water. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Chad Gaudin and the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers turned Gaudin into their personal punching bag again on Saturday night, beating the Louisianan for the third time this season by knocking him out in less than four innings of their 7-3 victory before 32,476 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Gaudin (10-11) is stuck with a losing record for the first time this season after again proving unable to contain the Rangers. He has faced Texas five times this season and has a 1-3 record and a 6.26 ERA to show for his troubles. In 14 career games (five starts) against the Rangers, he is 1-5 with a 6.42 ERA. That's the most losses and highest ERA Gaudin has against any opponent he has faced more than four times.

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"That's a good lineup," Gaudin said. "They have good hitters, they're an aggressive team. They hit me well. Next outing, I've just got to make sure that doesn't happen."

Yes, as things now stand, Gaudin's next start would be another rematch with Texas, next Thursday at McAfee Coliseum. Might a rotation adjustment be in order?

"We haven't even talked about that," Athletics manager Bob Geren said. "It is at our ballpark next time, so it's a little bit of a different situation."

Perhaps Geren shouldn't be so dismissive about the notion of skipping Gaudin's next turn. The 24-year-old right-hander already has thrown 177 1/3 innings, 14 more than his previous career high as a professional. After winning six of his first seven decisions, he has now lost eight of his last 12 starts to fall below .500 for the first time. Can sending him out against the Rangers again during this slump be the A's best option?

Geren admitted the team is watching Gaudin's mounting workload closely.

"That's something we've constantly been monitoring," Geren said. "But his velocity seems to be there. He feels fine. There are no concerns physically."

Gaudin also insisted he remains fit to pitch over the season's final three weeks, even against the Rangers. He described Saturday's start as "unsatisfying," but indicated there are adjustments to be made that could see him beat Texas next week.

"While this was really aggravating," Gaudin said, "I'm trying to learn from what mistakes I made during the game."

Two of them were easy to spot. Gaudin left a high fastball over the plate to Ian Kinsler in the first inning, and the second batter Gaudin faced drove it over the wall in left for his 19th home run. Three consecutive two-out singles -- by Marlon Byrd, Jason Botts and Hank Blalock -- gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the first.

The Rangers swamped Gaudin with four more runs in the fourth. Blalock pounced on a sinker that didn't sink and led off the inning with his ninth home run.

After Nelson Cruz doubled and Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked, Frank Catalanotto singled home another run. After Kinsler fouled out, Gaudin was on the verge of escaping the inning. Then he gave up back-to-back two-out RBI singles to Michael Young and Byrd and was pulled, his team trailing 6-0.

Reliever Dan Meyer turned in a strong 3 1/3-inning effort, but gave up another run-scoring single to Blalock in the seventh. The A's, meanwhile, managed two runs in the fifth off of reliever A.J. Murray and an unearned run in the eighth off of former teammate John Rheinecker before succumbing to their 10th loss in 14 games.

The Rangers, on the other hand, are closing fast. They have won 11 of 13 to climb within one game of the third-place A's in the AL West. The Rangers have been in last place since April 25, but if they can take Sunday's series finale, they not only would tie Oakland for third place, they would have their first three-game sweep of the A's in Texas since Sept. 21-23, 2004.

"They're playing real good right now," Geren conceded.

The Rangers needed five pitchers to get through Saturday's game, six if you count the scheduled starter (Kason Gabbard) who was a late pregame scratch because of a blister problem on his pitching hand.

Rookie Luis Mendoza, making his Major League debut, was pressed into service as the emergency starter. He opened his big league career with two shutout innings, but was knocked to the ground in the second when he took a Nick Swisher line drive off the inside of his left knee.

"Oh, man, that's something you never want to do," Swisher said. "I ran to first base, but I didn't know what to do. I wasn't sure where it hit him. When he finally popped up, I felt a lot better."

Mendoza managed to throw eight more pitches to finish the second inning, but did not return. X-rays revealed no fracture, and the Rangers said he would be sidelined indefinitely with a badly bruised knee. Murray (1-1) picked up his first Major League win with three innings of relief in Mendoza's stead.

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

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