The 12 A's that batted in the top of the seventh saved starter Greg Smith. The rookie left-hander drew the unlucky straw in a Rangers sixth that featured a broken-bat hit and two seeing-eye ground-ball hits. After it was all over, the A's trailed, 7-4, entering the final three innings.
Left fielder Jack Cust said the A's hitters convened in the dugout after the Rangers' big inning and challenged each other to match it.
"We refused to get swept today," Smith said.
The A's scored nine runs on six hits in the seventh. Oakland, which leads the AL in walks, drew three free passes in the inning after not walking once in to the first two games of the series. The inning also included back-to-back walks by their Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki.
The A's also hit two home runs in the inning, one a two-run home run by Cust and the other a solo shot by Mark Ellis to make it 13-7.
Ellis' at-bat was one for the ages, at least in manager Bob Geren's opinion. Ellis saw 13 pitches in the at-bat from Rangers reliever Frank Francisco. Ellis finally won the battle, cranking a long home run 371 feet to left field.
"That's the best at-bat I've seen in 30 years," Geren said. "If you go over a 10-pitch at-bat and reach base, very good. We used to give out prizes for that in the Minors."
The A's ended up hitting three home runs Sunday -- Ellis, Cust and Travis Buck hit one apiece.
They manufactured runs to take the lead, something they've struggled to do while batting .177 with runners in scoring position the last 16 games.
After Ellis' leadoff single in the seventh, three of the next four batters walked, including Barton, who drew four walks despite batting .139 in May.
Jack Hannahan hit a two-run single to give the A's an 8-7 lead. Bobby Crosby added a two-run single, followed by Cust's home run.
In all, the first eight A's to bat reached base. The A's hadn't scored more than four runs in their last five games -- the previous four losses -- before their 13-run outburst Sunday.
"I don't know what to make of it," Geren said. "It's good news to know we're capable of it."
The rally allowed Smith to have a better feeling about his worst outing in 11 Major League starts. Smith hadn't allowed more than four earned runs in a start. He allowed seven in five innings Sunday.
He allowed four singles and a walk to start the sixth. The only hard hit was Ian Kinsler's single to start the inning.
"Suzuki said he threw way better than that," Geren said.
The A's took their first lead in the series in the fifth, when Buck led off the inning with a home run to tie the score at 2. Suzuki added an RBI single to give the A's the lead. Hannahan then hit a sacrifice fly to bring the score to 4-2.
It was an important win for the A's, who lost their third straight series, but at least managed for the second consecutive time to get out of Texas with a win in the final game.
The A's held onto second place, taking a 1 1/2 game lead on the Rangers as Oakland starts a nine-game homestand against Detroit, the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels and the New York Yankees.
"We're playing teams in our division and trying to win," Cust said. "These are important games."