Braden stalls Rangers, pitches A’s to 5-0 win
OAKLAND – Dallas Braden hasn’t conceded anything yet.
The left-hander allowed one hit in eight innings and the Oakland Athletics beat Texas 5-0 Thursday night, stalling the Rangers’ pursuit of their first AL West title since 1999.
“There’s no obese lady in sight and I can’t hear any singing,” Braden said.
Braden (10-13) outpitched Cliff Lee to end his four-game losing streak and keep Texas’ magic number at four for clinching the division. The A’s moved within seven games of first-place Texas.
“I’ll see you in October,” said Braden, who has held the Rangers scoreless for 18 straight innings over three games since Aug. 6.
Braden, who pitched a perfect game against Tampa Bay in May, retired 19 batters in a row after Nelson Cruz’s two-out single in the first. Ian Kinsler ended the streak by drawing a leadoff walk in the eighth.
“The walks at the end kind of ticked me off because they prevented me from finishing the game,” Braden said. “Every arm I can save in the bullpen is crucial.”
Braden walked two and struck out seven. Brad Ziegler issued a walk and hit a batter with a pitch in the ninth before finishing the one-hitter.
“It was classic Dallas when he’s on,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “He had a great changeup and used it in all different counts.”
Lee (12-9) set down his first eight batters before an uncharacteristic bout of wildness. He walked his first two hitters in the fourth, marking the first time he’s walked consecutive batters in two years – a span of 80 starts. Both runners scored.
“We’ve been in some tough situations before and we’ll figure a way to get out of this,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We just haven’t scored any runs. I don’t think it’s frustration. We have to get it done between the lines. Dallas Braden just shut us down tonight.”
Steve Tolleson doubled twice and drove in a run as the A’s won their fourth in five games.
“We’re playing like our backs are against the wall,” said Tolleson, who snapped an 0-for-11 streak. “I’ve been feeling comfortable and hitting line drives. Tonight they happened to find holes.”
Jack Cust, Chris Carter and Matt Carson also drove in runs for Oakland.
Lee lasted five innings, allowing four runs and six hits. He walked two and struck out three.
“For whatever reason I lost a little command there and walked a couple of guys,” Lee said. “I’m not happy walking anybody, much less the first two guys in a 0-0 game. They scored a couple of runs and that was it. I have to make adjustments.”
Missing injured slugger Josh Hamilton, the Rangers have struggled on offense while losing four of five. Oakland has made up three games on Texas in five days.
“We’re having fun,” Braden said. “We know what kind of position we’re in. All in all it was a great win over the division leaders.”
Lee had allowed two runs in his previous 16 innings after an awful August in which he was 1-4 with a 6.35 ERA in seven starts.
Braden had struggled in the four starts since he shut out Texas on Aug. 28, losing all four with an ERA of 6.23.
“We’ve been playing good baseball all year,” Cruz said. “One game doesn’t mean anything.”
Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki walked to open the fourth. After Lee struck out Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cust hit a broken-bat single through the infield to score one run, and Carter hit a sacrifice fly for another run.
Greg Gross singled and scored when Tolleson doubled in the fifth. Tolleson scored on a double play to make it 4-0.
Carson’s double against Scott Feldman in the sixth made it 5-0.
Notes: Oakland OF Rajai Davis was scratched from the lineup with a non-baseball related injury. … 3B Michael Young became the fourth Rangers player to appear in at least 1,500 games, joining Rafael Palmeiro, Jim Sundberg and Ivan Rodriguez. … The Rangers have lost five of their last six games against the A’s. … Carter is 5 for 10 after starting his career 0 for 33. … Cust’s 34 RBIs against the Rangers are his most against any team. … Lee walked two in a row on June 4, 2008, against the Rangers while with Cleveland. He’d gone 585 1-3 innings since.