A's can't find offense against Rangers

A's can't find offense against Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Listening to rookie left-hander Greg Smith speak after Friday night's 4-0 loss to Texas, you would never have known he started the year in Triple-A.

The 24-year-old spoke like a veteran, taking blame for putting the A's in an early hole. No doubt the A's are counting on him -- they were 5-1 in his starts coming into Friday -- but none of his teammates would expect him to shoulder all the blame after watching their four-game winning streak come to end.

The Rangers do have the hottest pitching staff in the Majors, with a running streak of three consecutive shutouts, so Smith had little room for error.

"I didn't know about their scoreless streak," Smith said. "It was a case of digging a hole too deep and not making enough pitches. I felt like I had good stuff, but I missed my location and made a lot of mistakes."

Smith (2-2) is probably being too hard on himself. He allowed single runs in the first two innings, then settled in and had his team within striking distance at 2-0 entering the sixth inning.

Meanwhile, the A's hitters drew four walks in the first three innings, but couldn't get anything going against Rangers right-hander Scott Feldman. An Oakland team that has been so good with runners in scoring position was 0-for-4 in the second and third innings.

Smith finally relented in the sixth, allowing a two-run double to rookie Brandon Boggs to make it a 4-0 deficit.

Boggs, who was lucky to only bruise his right knee when he crashed into the wall in foul ground in the second inning, battled Smith in the at-bat. He fouled off two good pitches before hitting a 3-2 fastball into the left-center-field gap. Boggs also had a solo home run in the second inning.

"He's a good hitter right now," Smith said.

The A's couldn't get anything going off Feldman, who has gone from a big league middle reliever last year to Triple-A to start this season to a starter who has now defeated Oakland twice in six days.

The A's tried to make adjustments, but second baseman Mark Ellis said Feldman was so erratic that it was hard to get a feel for him. Ellis came up with two runners on and a 1-0 deficit in the second inning and he flied out to right field. Jack Hannahan ended the inning with a grounder to second.

"I got too impatient right there," said Ellis, who had a walk-off home run in Wednesday's win over Baltimore. "You have to give him credit for getting out of jams."

The A's threatened in the top of the ninth as Jack Cust and Frank Thomas started the inning with singles off Rangers closer C.J. Wilson. However, Emil Brown, who has been money in late-game situations, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play before Bobby Crosby struck out to end the game.

"He made a nice pitch to Emil," A's manager Bob Geren said. "Good things usually happen when Emil is up in those situations."

While you have to give the A's their just due for being 22-15 and tied for first place in the American League West, there is room for some concern.

The A's have lost three of four games to the Rangers so far this season, and are now 5-8 against their AL West rivals.

And, no, Smith didn't take the blame for that.

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