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Kennedy's big fly swings slugfest A's way

Kennedy's big fly swings slugfest A's way

OAKLAND -- Adam Kennedy's tiebreaking, two-run homer in the sixth inning on Wednesday was the fourth and most significant long ball of the night for the A's.

It gave Oakland its third consecutive victory over the visiting Rangers, 7-5.

For pure drama, though, Kurt Suzuki's third-inning solo shot had Kennedy's clout beat.

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Two batters after Scott Hairston's two-run homer gave the A's their first lead in the first inning, Rangers starter Vicente Padilla plunked Suzuki in the left shoulder.

Padilla, understand, has quite a reputation for taking his frustration out on the various body parts of opponents, and Suzuki made it clear that he was aware of said rep, exchanging words with Texas catcher Taylor Teagarden while glaring at Padilla.

"Was I happy?" Suzuki said. "No."

Asked if he thought it was intentional, he offered only, "Everyone has their opinions, and I'll leave it at that."

Translation: Duh.

Two innings later, after a sacrifice fly by Hairston tied the game at 3, Suzuki got what he called the "ultimate revenge" on Padilla, snapping the tie with a shot over the high wall in left-center field.

"The next at-bat, I wanted to do some damage," Suzuki admitted. "I wish I hit it a little higher; I thought it was a double off the bat. But the best thing to do to get back at him is hit the ball hard.

"It felt pretty sweet."

Said A's manager Bob Geren of Suzuki's swing: "I thought he was extremely aggressive, and he showed a lot of bat speed."

Oakland showed a little bit of everything in moving to within a Thursday victory of pulling off a surprising four-game sweep of the Rangers.

• Speedy Rajai Davis remained hot, getting the A's started with a single, a stolen base, a double and two runs scored in the first three innings.

• Spot starter Chad Reineke provided five decent innings in his A's debut, leaving with a 5-4 lead.
• Rookie shortstop Cliff Pennington slammed his first career homer.

• The bullpen provided four innings of three-hit work, including a two-strikeout ninth from All-Star rookie closer Andrew Bailey, who picked up his 15th save in 19 chances.

"I don't know if they're hot or we're making them hot," Texas manager Ron Washington said, "but everything they're doing is working."

That includes Kennedy, the salty veteran who was the first batter that flame-throwing Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz faced on Monday night in his big league debut.

Kennedy looked overmatched at the end of the encounter, swinging through a full-count fastball in the sixth inning. But with Mark Ellis at second base after a double that helped chase Padilla, Kennedy greeted Feliz by mashing a moon shot to right on the second pitch he saw.

"The difference [from Monday] was swinging at strikes," Kennedy said. "I was swinging at balls the other night. I made him get it in the zone tonight, and I got a good swing on it."

"Was that pitch 100 [mph]?" Geren asked. "I know [Feliz] hit 100 a couple times. But Adam is such an experienced player, he can kind of figure out when to dial it up when he needs to. He's a smart player."

Kennedy wasn't very expansive on his big at-bat, but he was full of praise for Reineke, who was summoned from Sacramento to serve as a temporary fill-in for lefty Dallas Braden, who has an infected left ankle.

Reineke gave up four runs on seven hits and hit a batter -- Michael Young got a dose two innings after Padilla stung Suzuki, prompting a warning for both benches -- - over five innings.

"He was protecting his hitters," Young said. "It's part of the game."

"He did a good job," Kennedy said of Reineke. "He threw strikes and threw the ball well. It was a nice lift for us."

Alas, likely a temporary one for Reineke. Braden expects to make his next start, and the A's played with a three-man bench on Wednesday night, so it's likely Reineke will be sent back from whence he came Thursday morning.

"I felt pretty good," said Reineke, who has played at Triple-A this year with three-fourths of Oakland's starting infield Wednesday (Pennington, Ellis and Tommy Everidge).

"I wanted to pound the zone and get ahead, and I did that for the most part. To leave with the team ahead was a good thing, but I have plenty to work on. The most important thing is we won the game."

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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