Yu Lose! A's Salvage Finale 3-1, Saved By All-Star Cook

It was a big win for the A's to get out of Texas (a worthy goal for any human being) with a win, following three losses that ranged from disappointing to heartbreaking. Early on you wouldn't have bet on Oakland, as Travis Blackley and Yu Darvish put up zeros for a couple innings but looked very different doing it.

Darvish retired all 6, with 3 Ks, and looked overpowering, while Blackley alternated line drive hits and line drive outs, surviving mostly because he picked off two of the Rangers he couldn't retire when they held a bat. The Rangers even had a third runner erased when they drew first blood, as Elvis Andrus singled home a run in the 3rd only to be caught in a rundown when the throw home was cutoff.

But while they were striking out 11 times against Darvish, the A's put up "picket fences" (a row of 1s) in the 5th (to tie), the 6th (to take the lead), and the 7th (to "add on").

Oakland tied it in the 5th on an RBI single by Derek Norris, driving home Seth Smith after his leadoff double. The single was past the dive of Michael Young, who was in from 3B looking for a possible bunt. Seriously? In a 1-0 game, in the 5th inning, with Norris at the plate? Hey, thanks!

In the 6th, with Jemile Weeks at 1B and two out Yoenis Cespedes lined a double into the RF corner -- so good to see how many balls Cespedes has smoked to RF and right-center lately -- but the ball took the world's kindest carom to Nelson Cruz and Weeks had to hold at 3B. However, karmic balance was restored to the universe when Darvish uncorked a wild pitch that, for a change, didn't get a piece of Seth Smith (remember the at bat against Joe Nathan?). The ball bounced back into fair territory but an alert Weeks beat Darvish to the plate to score the go ahead run.

In the 7th, Brandon Moss launched a pitch so hard and far that undoubtedly some concerned onlooker reported it to Ball Protective Services. Moss' upper deck blast was his 8th since joining the A's and made it 3 games in a row that an A's 1Bman had left the yard.

As for Blackley, I can't quite say he was great in that he relied on an awful lot of "at 'em" balls and towering drives caught at the wall, but he didn't walk anyone and he danced through raindrops dryly enough to limit Texas to 1 run in 7 innings. Hard to argue with that.

Grant Balfour would have pitched through the 8th had Brandon Inge not booted a DP ball for his 4th error on the 7-game road trip. As it was, Balfour handed over a 1B and 3B, two out mess to Jerry Blevins to face Josh Hamilton. Hamilton? Hit a 3-run HR after an Inge error opened the door? Not this time. 0 for 4 with 4 Ks in his previous matchups with Blevins, Hamilton did make contact on a 2-2 pitch but popped it up to SS.

Ryan Cook pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning for his 7th save, celebrating his selection to the All-Star team by throwing 9 pitches, 7 strikes. Snubbed All-Star candidate Josh Reddick enacted some measure of revenge against Ron Washington by running down Nelson Cruz' drive to the RF wall in a nifty running catch that ended the game.

Now if the A's can just figure out how to operate an ordinary seat belt -- or if perhaps an airline attendant will offer some tutelage -- the A's can fly home and host the Red Sox tomorrow. WIth a one-game winning streak.

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