ARLINGTON, Texas — David Murphy had three hits and scored twice to snap out of a long slump, and the Texas Rangers beat the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics 9-4 on Wednesday night.
Justin Grimm (6-5) trailed when he threw his last pitch, but the Rangers scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to go ahead and make him the first Texas starter this month to get a victory.
Rangers starters had gone 17 consecutive games without a win since Derek Holland beat Kansas City on May 31. The team’s previous longest such stretch was 16 in a row in 1975.
Nelson Cruz, hitting third for the first time this season, had three hits and drove in two runs, and Lance Berkman homered for the Rangers.
Murphy had only seven hits in his previous 51 at-bats before hits in three consecutive innings — two singles before a double in the seventh.
The nine runs were the most for Texas since a 9-5 win over Arizona on May 30. Their 14 hits were the most since a night later against Kansas City in the game Holland won.
Ian Kinsler had a sacrifice fly off Tommy Milone (6-7) that tied the game in the fifth before Leonys Martin raced home on a grounder with the go-ahead run.
The Rangers won for only the fourth time in 14 games, and pulled within two games of Oakland. The A’s will go for a split in the finale of the four-game series Thursday, but will leave Texas still in first place regardless of what happens.
Oakland went ahead 3-2 in the fifth on a three-run homer by Chris Young, a .186 hitter in the leadoff spot while both Coco Crisp and John Jaso got the night out of the starting lineup.
Grimm walked Josh Reddick, a .206 hitter, before a wild pitch and then a walk to No. 9 hitter Eric Sogard. Young homered onto hill in straightaway center field, a shot estimated at 404 feet for a 3-2 lead.
Before that, the A’s didn’t have a runner get past first base. But their lead didn’t last long after Grimm’s last pitch.
Murphy and Martin, left-handed hitters at the bottom of the Texas batting order, had consecutive singles off lefty Milone to start the fifth. Murphy scored on the Kinsler sac fly and Martin immediately took off running from third toward home when Nelson Cruz hit a grounder.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson’s throw was to the first base-side of the plate, and by time Derek Norris caught it and reached back to try to apply a tag, Martin had slid past him and reached back with his hand to slap the touch the plate.
Grimm allowed three hits and the runs on the homer. The right-hander struck out three and walked three while getting his sixth victory, most for American League rookies.
Robinson Chirinos and Murphy had consecutive one-singles in the sixth to chase Milone, who allowed six runs and eight hits.
Martin and Kinsler greeted reliever Dan Otero with consecutive RBI singles.
Jaso, who was getting a break before Thursday’s day game, had to come in after Norris got hit by a foul tip off Adrian Beltre’s bat in the sixth. Norris went down to his knees and stayed in that position for several minutes before being helped off the field.
When play resumed, Beltre had an RBI double for an 8-3 lead.
Notes: Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland completed a three-game rehabilitation assignment going 6-for-9 with three doubles and a homer for Double-A Frisco. He is eligible to be reinstated Friday for the opener of a three-game series at St. Louis. … Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito threw the ceremonial first pitch. … Oakland is 5-6 its last 11 games. … Berkman’s homer was a two-run shot in the second, his sixth of the season.