Freddy Tarnok threw four scoreless innings of relief for his first MLB win and five Oakland pitchers combined for a four-hitter as the Athletics beat AL West-leading Texas 2-0 Wednesday to avoid a series sweep and snap the Rangers’ eight-game winning streak.
Zack Gelof hit his sixth homer of the season and rookie Esteury Riuiz singled, stole two bases to raise his season total to 46 and scored the A’s first run. Oakland, which has the worst record in the majors at 33-82, won for just the eighth time in 23 games since the All-Star break.
In the A’s clubhouse after the game, Tarnok was treated to a celebration by his teammates, who doused him in the shower area.
“Happy to finally get that win, throw up a zero, get a good outing in,” said Tarnok, who missed the first two months of the season with a strained pitching shoulder. “Got a little shower of multiple liquids in the shower, so it was slick.”
The Rangers entered the game with their longest winning streak since 2017 and leading their division by three games over the Houston Astros.
Texas, however, couldn’t manage much offense off an A’s pitching staff that entered the game with the highest ERA (5.83) in the majors.
“That’s the story of the game,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “The bats were quiet. We just couldn’t mount anything hardly offensively.”
Tarnok (1-1) anchored the A’s on the mound in relief of opener Austin Pruitt with his longest and most efficient outing of his career. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander had four strikeouts and two walks, gave up two hits and allowed one runner past first base.
“This kid’s been grinding through the rehab process and put a lot of work into getting back here,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “Today was a reflection of that work.”
Pruitt pitched two scoreless innings as Oakland’s opener. Ángel Felipe followed Tarnok and retired four batters before Kirby Snead set down two. Trevor May allowed a pair of two-out singles in the ninth and then got Josh Smith to line out to shortstop for his 12th save.
Ruiz, the A’s speedy outfielder who leads the American League in steals, singled leading off the third against Jordan Montgomery. Ruiz quickly stole second and then swiped third on the next pitch before scoring on Jonah Bride’s sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
Ruiz had studied videos of Montgomery before the game and noticed something he thought could help, although he wouldn’t reveal exactly what he saw.
“I saw it before the game, studied it and when I saw it I just took it,” Ruiz said through a translator. “I wasn’t expecting to try to go for third, but once it was there I just went for it.”
Gelof, another of the A’s promising rookies, made it 2-0 with a solo homer leading off the sixth. It was Gelof’s fifth home run in his last 11 games and marked his sixth in 22 career games, making him the fastest player in franchise history to reach that mark.
“It’s not something I focus on, but it’s something that’s pretty cool, especially if you’re driving in runs and helping the team win,” Gelof said. “When you hit the ball hard, good things happen.”
Josh Smith doubled in the third and Travis Jankowski had an infield single in the sixth to account for two of the Rangers’ four hits.
Montgomery (7-10) allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings in his second start with the Rangers since being acquired in a trade from the Cardinals on July 30.
GOING ALL OUT
Jankowski made a spectacular diving catch in right field to rob Aledmys Díaz of a hit in the fourth inning.
Rangers: 3B Josh Jung had successful surgery on Wednesday to repair a fracture of his left thumb. Hand specialist Dr. Don Sheridan performed the surgery in Arizona and used a plate and screws to stabilize the fracture. … C Jonah Heim (left wrist tendon strain) is expected to face live pitching this weekend when the team plays in San Francisco. … RHP Nathan Eovaldi (forearm strain) did some some light throwing off the mound before the game. His status remains uncertain.