A's pitching struggles vs. Rangers

A's pitching struggles vs. Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Any other day, Dana Eveland might not have been so willing to pose for a picture, especially a day during which he allowed seven runs. However, this wasn't any other day.

Wednesday was hazing day for rookies in the A's clubhouse, and every rookie on the roster was given their own costume. Eveland was dolled up in a tight female police officer uniform, complete with white wig, billy club and handcuffs.

This hazing ritual would have gone on regardless of the outcome of Wednesday's game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, but it actually helped take the sting out of the 14-4 loss the Athletics had just endured.

When reliever Alan Embree asked Eveland to pose, all he could do was oblige and poke a little fun at himself.

"Actually, it fits nice, but I don't have any pants, so that's not right," Eveland said. "I was just hoping I'd slide. This is my third time doing this, but I'm not complaining."

Eveland has pitched in the Majors in each of the past four seasons, but not enough to prevent him from joining about half the A's clubhouse in donning less-than-flattering attire. Costumes ranged from Batwoman to nurse to maid.

Said Gio Gonzalez, dressed as a German beer hall girl, as he requested help putting ribbons in his blonde wig: "Make me look hot."

As for the game, Oakland had held Texas to nine total runs in the first two games of the series, but an eight-run sixth-inning outburst by the Rangers, combined with the A's inability to solve Matt Harrison for the second time in two weeks, did them in.

"We just made a lot of mistakes, and we don't want to do that in this ballpark against a lineup like that," manager Bob Geren said. "We pitched well the first two games of the series, but the second half of that game wasn't the way to pitch."

One batter into the bottom of the sixth inning, home-plate umpire Dale Scott warned both dugouts after Hank Blalock was struck by an Eveland offering.

Blalock had homered off Eveland in the fourth inning, making him the first left-hander to go deep off Eveland this season, and according to Eveland, the first hitter to hit his slider for a home run.

Eveland was not the first A's pitcher Blalock took deep in the series. By the end of Wednesday's game, Blalock had gone 7-for-12 in the series, with a home run in each of the three games.

"He's been locked in, and I thought I set the pitch up, but I gave him an opportunity to get around it," Eveland said.

Geren knew the plunking was unintentional, so he was surprised Scott issued the warnings.

"I was," Geren said. "It was obvious [Eveland] got beat away, so he tried to come in and he missed."

Scott might as well have been warning the Athletics of the barrage of runs that were headed their way.

The Rangers piled on seven runs before an out was recorded in the sixth inning and eight runs in all to pull away and assume a 13-2 advantage.

Eveland would face only two batters in the inning, hitting Blalock and allowing a two-run home run to Nelson Cruz.

"I threw a two-seam [fastball] and it got away from me," Eveland said of the pitch that hit Blalock. "The next pitch I threw was right down the middle, and Cruz is a good hitter."

After Eveland departed, Santiago Casilla came in, faced four batters and retired none. Jeff Gray relieved Casilla and got the A's out of the inning, but not before allowing two runs of his own.

"They say hitting is contagious, and they proved it that inning," Eveland said.

The outing was Eveland's last of the season, and Wednesday notwithstanding, he and Geren were satisfied with the 2008 campaign the left-hander turned in.

Other than three starts in the Minor Leagues in August, Eveland spent all season in the A's rotation, going 9-9 with a 4.34 ERA.

"I'm happy," Eveland said. "This is my first pro season I've been a starter the whole time. I really wanted to end the season with a three-something ERA. I was getting close, but I had the luck of the draw to face the Rangers in their park during the day."

The Athletics also had the luck of the draw in facing Harrison, who tossed a shutout in Oakland on Sept. 12.

This time around, Harrison held the A's to two runs on six hits and a walk in six innings. The A's went down on strikes seven times against him and 11 times in the game.

"He had a pretty good change that faded away," Geren said. "He was throwing 93 [mph], also."

With the loss, the Athletics fell 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers for second place in the American League West. Oakland entered the series trailing Texas by a half-game.

But a three-game series at the fourth-place Mariners awaits the Athletics, while the Rangers travel to play a three-game set with the first-place Angels, so Geren is holding out hope his club can make up ground this weekend and earn second place.

"We still feel like we have a chance to do it," Geren said.

Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.