When the A's and Rangers get together, you might want to pack an extra meal and strap yourself in for a long one.
It happened again Friday night in the second game of a four-game series at McAfee Coliseum. The official time of game was three hours and 30 minutes, which isn't really all that outrageous, but the first six innings suggested that a four-hour beast was in the making.
Those first six innings took two hours and 51 minutes to complete.
But all's well that ends well, and it certainly ended well for Oakland. The A's came back from an early six-run deficit to take a three-run lead through five, watched Sammy Sosa quickly tie it with a three-run homer in the top of the sixth, then scored twice in the bottom of the sixth and held on for an 11-9 victory.
"I'll play all night if we win," A's manager Bob Geren said. "That was one of our better comebacks."
Well out of playoff contention, Geren's club isn't without a goal. It's to get back to .500, and Friday's win moved the A's to 73-76. The A's will have to go 8-5 the rest of the way to end the season at .500, and Nick Swisher has little doubt that the goal will be reached.
"We're the Never Die Kids," said Swisher, whose one-out solo homer in the sixth proved to be the game-winning blow. "Regardless where we are in the standings, we keep banging, keep playing our butts off."
Swisher's homer, his 21st of the year, capped the comeback. A's rookie Daric Barton's homer, the first of his career, launched it. Barton, who had doubled to deep right in the first, slammed a two-run shot to right in the bottom of the third that signaled the beginning of the end for Rangers starter Kason Gabbard.
"I hit a fastball the at-bat before, so I was looking offspeed," said Barton. "And he threw a hanging breaking ball."
Barton went 3-for-5, and he is 9-for-22 (.409) with four multi-hit games in five games since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento.
"My early impressions of him," Geren said, "have been extremely impressive."
Barton doesn't seem particularly impressed with himself.
"It's what I've done my whole career," he said. "Take the bad pitches and hit the good ones."
Gabbard, also a rookie, threw a lot of bad pitches that the A's took during their seven-run fifth. After Shannon Stewart and Barton singled to start the rally, Gabbard walked Swisher, Mike Piazza and Mark Ellis consecutively, forcing home two runs and ending his evening.
"That team prides itself on making a pitcher throw the ball over the plate," said Rangers manager Ron Washington, a former longtime A's coach. "They're not going to chase anything, and [Kabbard] couldn't get the ball over."
Mike Wood took over, and the A's continued to roll. Jack Cust and Kurt Suzuki greeted Wood with RBI singles before scoring on a throwing error by catcher Gerald Laird, and struggling Donnie Murphy made it 9-6 by dropping down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt -- the first of the year called by Geren.
"That kind of thing is fun to watch," Swisher said. "You can tell the emotion is still there, and that's great to see."
Not so great to see, from Oakland's perspective, was rookie lefty Dan Meyer trudging off the mound with two out in the third inning. He fairly breezed through the first two frames, but a one-out walk, four consecutive singles and a two-out walk forced Geren to give Meyer the hook.
"I really couldn't tell you; I felt great," Meyer said when asked what went wrong. "When I got the ball where I wanted it, they hit it where we weren't. Just chalk it up to one of those nights."
Geren chalked it up to spotty location, but Meyer disagreed.
"I felt like I located pretty well," he said.
Whatever it was, Geren said Meyer will get a chance to fix it next Wednesday with a start against the Mariners.
"That's good to hear," Meyer said. "This is a tough loss to swallow, but I'm going to work hard every day I'm here and try to open some eyes."
But first, after another long night against the Rangers, the A's hustled home for some shut-eye before Saturday's matinee. And they hustled home with smiles on their faces.
"It wasn't the prettiest," Geren said. "But coming out with a win after the way it started was a real nice accomplishment."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.