Brad Miller hit a key single in the eighth inning that drove in two runs after a replay review initiated by the umpires, and the Texas Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 2-0 on Saturday.
The winning rally started when Adolis Garcia and Willie Calhoun chased Frankie Montas (2-2) with consecutive one-out singles. After Domingo Acevedo retired pinch-hitter Jonah Heim on a groundout, Miller lined a 1-1 pitch to left.
Garcia scored easily but pinch-runner Eli White was thrown out at home by a strong throw from left fielder Tony Kemp.
“It was hard to tell because there was a lot of contact but I felt like I got my hand in there,” White said. “It was so bang-bang it was kind of hard to tell if he was blocking the plate.”
The Rangers lost an earlier challenge, so they could not appeal. But the umpires initiated a crew chief review and overturned the initial call, ruling A’s catcher Sean Murphy illegally blocked the plate.
“Tried to set up where I usually try to set up and then there’s a lot of things converging at one time,” Murphy said. “I was just trying to make a play on the ball and make the tag. I don’t think it was egregious. Obviously New York thought I violated the rule. Just one of those things when you’re trying to make a play on the ball.”
A’s manager Mark Kotsay protested in between innings and was ejected.
The play helped Texas clinch its first series win of the season after dropping its first four. The Rangers have won three straight games after losing five in a row.
Four Rangers pitchers combined on a three-hitter. Brock Burke (2-0) got three outs for the win, and Matt Bush pitched the ninth for his first save.
Montas was dominant before running into trouble in the eighth. He permitted three hits, struck out eight and walked one.
Rangers starter Martín Pérez was equally sharp after a pair of rough outings. He pitched six innings of two-hit ball.
“The key today was keeping the ball down, everything down,” Pérez said. “They’re free-swingers, they swing at everything. I was attacking early and throwing the pitches where I wanted.”
ORDINARY 4-6-3-5 DP
The A’s turned two double plays, including a rare 4-6-3-5 to end the fifth. With runners at first and second, Calhoun hit a sharp grounder to Oakland second baseman Christian Lopes, who threw to shortstop Nick Allen for an out. After Allen’s relay to first was wide and pulled Christian Bethancourt off the bag, the former catcher alertly threw to third baseman Sheldon Neuse, who tagged Kole Calhoun scrambling back to the bag. After a short review the call was upheld, although Rangers manager Chris Woodward was confused.
“I don’t think (Neuse) meant to put his foot in the way but I just don’t understand how that’s allowed, how that’s not called the way it was called later in the game for the catcher,” Woodward said. “If you’re not allowed to block the plate, why are we allowed to block second base or third base? (Calhoun) clearly beat the play back to the base but the foot was in the way.”
Rangers: Spencer Howard is expected to be activated from the 10-day injured list to start Sunday. The right-hander has been out with a cracked fingernail since April 14. … García was doing OK after getting hit in the hand by a pitch from Montas in the fifth.
Athletics: OF Stephen Piscotty and LHP Kirby Snead were activated off the COVID-19 injured list. ... INF Drew Jackson was added to the COVID-19 IL. ... LHP Sam Selman was returned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Howard (0-0, 18.00 ERA) will make his second start of the season in the series finale. He was tagged for six runs in three innings against the Blue Jays on April 10. Athletics lefty Cole Irvin (1-1, 4.32 ERA) won two of his five starts against the Rangers last season.
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