ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Oakland Athletics rookie Dan Straily outpitched an ace in his last visit to Rangers Ballpark.
This time, the skidding Rangers were ready to hit — and score.
Nelson Cruz homered twice, A.J. Pierzynski drove in three runs and the Rangers snapped a six-game losing streak with an 8-7 win Monday night over the AL West-leading A's.
Straily hadn't allowed a homer in his last six starts and 38 innings until Pierzynski went deep in the second inning. The first of Cruz's two homers came off him as well.
"He was wild within the strike zone," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "It was pitches in the middle of the plate that they took advantage of."
Straily had a 2.21 ERA in his previous five starts, a stretch that began at Texas on May 21 when the right-hander worked seven scoreless innings and allowed two singles while facing only 22 batters — one more than the minimum for that span — in a 1-0 win over Yu Darvish.
This time, the A's right-hander allowed six runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings before Cruz greeted reliever Jesse Chavez (1-1) with his second homer.
"I was up in the strike zone. They were aggressive and I just got beat, plain and simple," Straily said. "Swing early and often. I feel like everyone up there was trying to swing out of their shoes on every single pitch. They got me, that's all there is to it."
Cruz's go-ahead homer was a two-run shot onto the hill in straightaway center field on an 0-2 pitch from Chavez, right after Pierzynski had an RBI double to chase Straily.
Cruz thrust his right arm into the air and shouted out in relief while running the bases after his second homer in two innings. That put Texas up 7-6, and he added an RBI double in the seventh.
The Rangers had a loud and clear response to the message manager Ron Washington delivered the previous day.
"They just showed what they have the capability of doing — what they did tonight," Washington said, referring to his rare postgame meeting after the team was swept in four games by Toronto. "That was the only thing that I stressed to them."
The Rangers' eight runs were their most in 16 games this month, and matched their total during the six straight losses — all at home.
Oakland, which entered the four-game series opener with a three-game division lead over Texas, wiped out an early 3-0 deficit with a six-run fourth ignited by a bizarre play before Neal Cotts (3-1) worked 2 1-3 perfect innings in relief of rookie Nick Tepesch.
Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers each worked 1-2-3 innings, then Joe Nathan gave up a run in the ninth before securing his 21st save in 22 chances.
In the Oakland fourth, Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder that ricocheted off third baseman Adrian Beltre toward shortstop. Elvis Andrus was about to throw to first when he saw John Jaso running in front of him toward third.
Andrus threw to Beltre, who made a swiping attempt at a tag. Jaso, sliding headfirst in front of him, lifted his arm into the air trying to avoid the tag and then dived into the base with his left hand. He was called safe by third base umpire Jordan Baker even though it appeared his hand came off the bag while being tagged. Beltre was irate and Washington also came out to argue the call.
"It's a little odd that the umpire can miss the call twice. ... He's right on top of the play and he still missed it," Beltre said. "I got him twice. I know that, because I did it myself, and I went to see the replay to confirm. The replay showed I tagged him twice. I don't know what he saw."
Tepesch then allowed three hits and a walk to the next four hitters, including a two-run single by Seth Smith, who scored on Jed Lowrie's double. Eric Sogard had a sacrifice fly and Coco Crisp's RBI single made it 6-3 and chased Tepesch.
"He made some good pitches in the bottom of the strike zone, and they went down there and they got them and they found holes," Washington said.
After being held to two runs or less in a team record-matching six games in a row, the Rangers took care of that in the first three innings. Pierzynski pulled a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole in the second, an inning before an RBI double by Ian Kinsler. That was Kinsler's first hit in 10 at-bats since coming off the disabled list Saturday after missing 25 games with a ribcage injury.
NOTES: Cespedes started his fourth consecutive game as Oakland's DH after missing two games because of left hamstring tightness. Melvin wants to see him in the field during batting practice before putting him back in the outfield. ... Rangers starting pitchers have gone 16 games in a row without a victory this month, matching a team record set in 1975. ... It was Cruz's 10th career multihomer game.