A's struggle to capitalize early, lose to Rangers

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 23, 2014 at 1:15 am •  Published: April 23, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Athletics managed to compile the best record in the American League through the first three weeks of the season despite not having a defined closer.

They need to find one fast if they want to stay in front.

Luke Gregerson, the latest to get a shot at the job, gave up a pair of runs with two outs in the ninth inning and Oakland lost its second straight to division rival Texas 5-4 on Tuesday night.

The Rangers' rally came after Gregerson made a nice play on a comebacker to catch Mitch Moreland trying to score from third base on a squeeze play for the second out. Josh Wilson followed with an RBI double and scored the game-winner on a single by Michael Choice.

"It's funny, you get a gift like that, a nice ball come right back to you and you get the guy at home," Gregerson said. "I just didn't execute my pitches (after that). I didn't get the ball down in the zone like I wanted to. I kind of had a slider that backed up on me and (Wilson) took advantage of it."

Gregerson (0-1) took the loss after blowing his third save opportunity. He gave up two runs on three hits.

"He just wasn't getting his slider to the other side of the plate, which is usually his go-to pitch especially when he's ahead," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "He just didn't get the slider far enough away. It kind of hung there."

More concerning to Melvin was the A's failure to take advantage of early struggles by Texas rookie starter Nick Martinez after scoring twice in the first and twice in the second.

Martinez was recalled from Double-A to make the start for the Rangers. He lasted five innings, allowing four runs on six hits. He walked three, struck out one and got some help from Texas' defense when center fielder Leonys Martin caught Jed Lowrie's fly ball then threw out John Jaso at home to complete the double play.

"That's been an issue for us," Melvin said. "It's usually not what happens in the last inning or the last at-bat. A lot of times it's what transpired in the middle innings or when you had opportunities earlier."

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