The busy A's are in the midst of a frenetic few days the American League West leaders knew were coming, and manager Bob Melvin is hoping for a minimum of break-even baseball.
A loss in Texas sent Oakland on its way with that plan intact.
Ace Lance Lynn struck out a season-high 10 in seven innings, Rougned Odor hit a tiebreaking three-run homer and the last-place Rangers beat the Athletics 6-3 on Sunday to split a four-game series.
Oakland headed to Seattle for a doubleheader that will be part of four games in about 60 hours, in three cities and time zones. The three-day travel binge ends with the start of a two-game series at Colorado on Tuesday. Oakland is off Thursday.
“It can get a little overwhelming if you start thinking about it,” said Stephen Piscotty, who gave Oakland a 1-0 lead with a first-inning groundout. “I’m just trying to go from station to station here. Got a flight. Get ready for that doubleheader and then move on. One step at a time, man.”
The doubleheader was wedged between the trips to Texas and Denver after a three-game series at the Mariners to start September was postponed over COVID-19 issues. It's the third twinbill in a week, and 10 games over seven days would be franchise's most since the Kansas City A's played 10 from June 16-22, 1966.
“You try to hang in there and play at least .500,” Melvin said. “It’s all on the road. It’s all lumped together. And not much time, and we’re traveling all over the place to do it. But other teams have done it too. There’s no excuses.”
Lynn (6-2) retired 17 straight after the first two batters reached. He walked Marcus Semien with two outs in the sixth, then struck out Stephen Piscotty.
He allowed consecutive one-out singles in the seventh to Robbie Grossman and Mark Canha, Oakland's first hits since Semien's double in the first, then struck out Ramón Laureano and was helped when third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa made a diving catch on Jonah Heim's liner.
“It was big, especially for Lance,” manager Chris Woodward said of Kiner-Falefa's play. “I don’t know if he goes to the next batter honestly. That changed the whole game honestly. It’s not surprising him making plays like that.”
Odor homered for the third straight day covering four games, connecting off Frankie Montas for a 4-1 lead in the sixth. His sixth homer was just his fourth hit in his past 36 at-bats, but three of those hits were homers.
Texas hit three home runs in its new retractable roof stadium for the first time and had seven in the series. Derek Dietrich hit a solo shot in the second, and Jeff Mathis hit a two-run homer in the seventh.
Montas (3-4) allowed at least four runs for the fourth time in five starts since dropping his ERA to 1.57 with seven scoreless innings in a 3-1 win over Houston on Aug. 8. He struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings.
Tommy La Stella hit a solo homer for Oakland in the eighth.
Montas and Lynn struck out the side in the fifth inning. Lynn’s middle K of Matt Olson was the 1,400th strikeout of his nine-year career. Olson struck out four times.
“You see a lot of hard stuff, but one’s sinking, one’s cutting, one’s elevated, one’s down,” Melvin said of Lynn, whose 2.40 ERA is third among AL starters. “He can turn really kind of one and a half pitches into like four.”
Montas is headed home to the Phoenix area for the impending birth of his daughter and plans to rejoin the team in time for his next start late in the week.
Athletics: Utility man Chad Pinder, among those expected to fill in with 3B Matt Chapman out for the season with a hip injury, went on the 10-day I with a strained right hamstring. INF Nate Orf's contract was selected from the alternate site.
Rangers: SS Elvis Andrus won't play again this season because of a lower back strain. The 32-year-old will treat the injury with injections and isn't expected to have surgery. Andrus, the starter since 2009 but whose production has been declining, has two years left on his contract. ... Woodward said he gave RF Joey Gallo the day off because of a tight hamstring, but said he planned to play the slugger the rest of the season after the final scheduled off day Monday. ... C Jose Trevino went on the IL with a left wrist injury. OF Scott Heineman was recalled from the alternate site.
Athletics: LHPs Jesús Luzardo (2-2, 3.97 ERA) and Mike Minor (0-5, 6.35) are the probable starters for the doubleheader in Seattle. Minor has allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings in two appearances, including one start, since coming over from the Rangers in a trade.
Rangers: The final trip, the longest at nine games, starts Tuesday in Houston. Rookie RHP Kyle Cody (0-1, 0.93) is the probable starter for the opener against the Astros.