ARLINGTON, Texas — Jason Hammel, the other pitcher the Oakland Athletics got in the trade with Jeff Samardzija , is still adjusting to his new team. And is still without a victory.
Hammel lost his third consecutive start since coming to the AL West-leading Athletics from the Chicago Cubs on July 5, allowing four runs in 5 2-3 innings in a 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
“The easiest thing here is to start getting down on myself, but I’m not going to do that,” Hammel said. “I did a lot of good things tonight, save for a few hard-hit balls. Balls that fell in and a couple walks that pushed guys into scoring position. … Just got to make quality pitches. Make my misses down.”
Working with a new catcher and seeing new lineups, Hammel (0-3) has a 7.11 ERA in three American League starts. The right-hander struck out three and walked two while giving up seven hits against the Rangers.
“I thought he looked better. He threw a better mix,” manager Bob Melvin said. “After the first couple innings, it looked like the ball, he got the ball down, commanded his fastball better. Had a sharper slider.”
Jerome Williams became the record 31st pitcher for Texas this season and Neftali Feliz was back in a familiar finishing role.
Williams pitched six solid innings in an unlikely start and Feliz got his first save in three seasons.
Feliz, the closer again after Joakim Soria was traded to Detroit earlier this week, got his first regular-season save since 2011. The former All-Star’s last opportunity, before moving to the rotation and then getting hurt and needing Tommy John surgery, was a blown save in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series against St. Louis.
“He got it done. I’m more than certain the more he gets the ball, the easier it will probably come,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’ll just keep giving him the ball and see where it goes.”
Elvis Andrus had a triple among his two hits and scored twice for the Rangers, who had lost their seven previous home games in July and were coming off a 2-5 road trip out of the All-Star break.
The Athletics still have the best record in the majors at 63-39, and they have a 22 1-2-game division lead over last-place Texas, which has won only six of its last 33 games
Yoenis Cespedes was back in Oakland’s lineup after missing Thursday with a sprained right thumb. He had an RBI single in the sixth, but had some adventures in only his second start in center field this season.
Jim Adduci’s double was hit to straightaway center over Cespedes in the second before he scored on a single by J.P. Arencibia.
An inning later, Andrus tripled on a ball that twice got past Cespedes, when he couldn’t cut it off in the right-center gap and when it ricocheted off the wall. Andrus came home on a single by Alex Rios that made it 2-0.
Cespedes had an error in the sixth on a wide throw home after Adrian Beltre’s RBI single. Rios and Beltre got an extra base, and Adduci followed with a sacrifice fly.
Melvin successfully challenged to have two safe calls at first base overturned on replay. Arencibia was initially ruled safe on a pickoff throw by Hammel in the fourth. Andrus was called safe on what would have been an infield single, but wound up the inning-ending out in the seventh.
The game ended on another close call, and Melvin came out when Derek Norris was called out on a close play at first base.
“I just go out there and do what they tell me,” said Melvin, who didn’t challenge, ending the game.
NOTES: Oakland DH John Jaso was thrown out trying to go from first to third on Cespedes’ single to left in the sixth. “The outfield grass here, I guess, is a little faster than the Coliseum. I was out, but I thought it was close,” Jaso said. Melvin said it was “probably a little aggressive. He knows that.” … The A’s have two 11-game winners for the rest of the series, Sonny Gray on Saturday and Scott Kazmir on Sunday.