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A's loss hurts in more ways than one

A's loss hurts in more ways than one

ARLINGTON -- Down to two backup infielders for the opener of a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday, the A's needed both of them by the bottom of the third inning.

By the end of one of the strangest games the A's have played in this steamy Southern yard, where they've participated in more than their share of doozies in recent years, it was abundantly clear that the team will have to bring in reinforcements.

Third baseman Nomar Garciaparra left in the second inning of Oakland's ugly 5-4 loss, having strained his right calf. He's expected to be placed on the disabled list Wednesday.

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Second baseman Mark Ellis left in the third, having strained his left calf. He's headed for the DL, too.

Lefty starter Brett Anderson left in the sixth, a blister on the tip of his left index finger cutting short what was shaping up as the best outing of his brief big league career.

And finally, a third calf injury. Righty reliever Santiago Casilla, who'd worked a scoreless seventh to preserve a 4-4 tie, left after throwing one pitch in the eighth. The right calf discomfort he'd been nursing for the past week or so sent him to the trainers' room, too.

Anderson is expected to make his next start; Casilla is listed as day-to-day.

"It seemed like something happened every inning," said Bobby Crosby, who came off the bench to play third base and then second.

"Very strange," said third baseman Eric Chavez, who didn't start because of his own health issues.

"This is the weirdest thing I've ever seen," offered Ellis.

It was a night for gallows humor, provided first by A's manager Bob Geren, after he was asked for an injury update.

"Which one would you like me to start with?" he asked.

Minutes later, Garciaparra shook his head with a weary smile.

"I don't know what was in our water today," he said.

It certainly wasn't anything with medicinal or injury prevention properties. Perhaps the water is better in Sacramento, from which the A's are expected to import two or three Triple-A River Cats on Wednesday.

"We need players," Chavez said.

"If you need players, you need players," added Ellis.

The A's always seem to need players. They tied a team record by using the DL 22 times in 2007, and they set a new record of 25 last season. If Garciaparra and Ellis are indeed put on the DL, they'll join outfielder Ben Copeland and pitchers Joey Devine and Justin Duchscherer.

"They're both excellent possibilities for the DL," Geren said of his hobbled infielders, both of whom confirmed the prognosis. "We'll make a formal announcement tomorrow, but there's a real good possibility."

"There's just been something about this team the past few years," Crosby offered. "I don't know what it is."

Crosby said he assumes he'll be the starting second baseman for the time being, while Jack Hannahan handles the hot corner in Chavez's stead. Crosby entered Tuesday's game as Garciaparra's replacement at third and moved to second when Ellis went down, with Hannahan stepping in at third.

"We've gotta have other guys step up, the same as we've done in the past," Crosby said. "Me and Hanny have to get the job done, the pitching staff has to step up. We've just gotta hold it down."

Holding the ball was an issue for the A's on Tuesday, too. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera and first baseman Jason Giambi each made an error, and four of Texas' five runs were unearned, including the game-winner.

Anderson, a 21-year-old rookie, gave up an RBI single to Hank Blalock in the first, but cruised through the next four frames. He left the game with a 3-1 lead after Marlon Byrd reached on an error by Cabrera to open the bottom of the sixth, but rookie righty Andrew Bailey came on and eventually walked in a run, before giving up a two-run single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Anderson was charged with three runs (two earned) on three hits and three walks, striking out five over five innings.

"He was great," Geren said. "Great performance."

After Michael Wuertz (1-1) replaced Casilla, Blalock hit a ball that scooted under Giambi's glove and into the right-field corner. Nelson Cruz singled to left with one out to provide the go-ahead run, and Frank Francisco worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

"That was the first game where the defense let us down," Geren said. "Unusual night, all the way around."

Unusual? Crosby put it better.

"Rough night," he said. "Not only getting a loss, but losing four guys. ... It was pretty bad."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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