OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Shin-Soo Choo’s home run on the first pitch of the game ensured the Texas Rangers would avoid a third consecutive shutout.
A fourth straight strong outing from Mike Minor was just as big for manager Jeff Banister’s ballclub.
Minor pitched six scoreless innings of one-hit ball to win his fourth straight, Joey Gallo backed up Choo with his 33rd homer and the Rangers snapped out of their offensive slump to avoid a series sweep, beating the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Wednesday.
“Choo getting off early, getting a run on the board, allowed our offense to kind of settle in,” Banister said. “It gave our guys some confidence to go out and swing the bat and attack.”
Texas was shut out in the first two games of the series and had a 19-inning scoreless streak before Choo’s leadoff homer on the first pitch from Oakland starter Edwin Jackson (4-3) in the first inning.
It was Choo’s fourth game-opening home run this season and the 27th of his career.
After Choo walked and scored on Beltre’s single in the third, Gallo opened the fourth with a towering drive off Jackson. Gallo’s 74 home runs since the start of last season are the most by a Rangers player over a two-year span since Mark Teixeira had 76 from 2005-06.
“We kept fighting,” Gallo said. “That’s baseball. Sometimes you get shut out and that’s the way it goes. Sometimes things don’t go your way.”
Adrian Beltre had a pair of RBI singles to help the Rangers end a six-game losing streak to the A’s. Jurickson Profar added two hits. Elvis Andrus singled and scored after going hitless in his previous 12 at-bats.
Stephen Piscotty had an RBI double for Oakland, which fell one game behind Houston in the AL West.
“You look at the homestand and you have to feel good about winning the series,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve been playing great and bringing the same attitude every day.”
The same could be said of Minor, who has been the Rangers’ most effective starter for the past three weeks.
Minor (10-6) was crisp while striking out four and walking one in his most effective start in nearly two months. The lefty, who was scratched from his scheduled start last Friday because of back stiffness, allowed only two runners and faced the minimum through six innings. Both runners were erased on double plays.
“I feel good about the zeros on the board, but I think there’s room for improvement,” Minor said. “I still didn’t throw good breaking balls, the changeup was just OK and the fastball location was OK.”
Cory Gearrin, Alex Claudio, Chris Martin and Jose Leclerc combined to retire nine batters and complete the four-hitter.
The A’s loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Leclerc struck out Nick Martini on a check swing for his sixth save in 10 opportunities.
Beltre singled in Andrus in the fifth to make it 4-0 and chase Jackson, who allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings and lost for the first time since July 20. The right-hander had yielded two runs over his previous 24 1/3 innings.
“I was off today,” Jackson said. “I was under the ball a lot and that caused the ball to go flat and up in the zone.”
Because their next series is across the San Francisco Bay against the Giants at AT&T Park, the Rangers won’t have to board a plane and instead will stay in the same hotel where they’ve been since Monday.
Rangers: Profar started again at third base in place of Beltre, who’s had recurring hamstring problems, and made a diving stop on Ramon Laureano’s sharp grounder in the first inning.
Rangers: RHP Drew Hutchison (2-2, 5.71 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season Friday against the Giants. Hutchison won his previous outing when he allowed two runs in five innings against the Angels.
Athletics: RHP Trevor Cahill (5-2, 3.12) pitches the opener of a four-game series in Minnesota on Thursday. Cahill has won four consecutive decisions, his longest winning streak since 2013.
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