A's snap 7-game skid on Diaz's pinch-hit HR in 9th vs. Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Pinch-hitter Jordan Diaz’s first big league homer in the ninth inning powered the Oakland Athletics to a 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night that ended a seven-game losing streak.
Diaz, called up Wednesday from Triple-A Las Vegas and appearing in his 17th major league game, homered on a 1-2 pitch from Will Smith (0-1) with one out, sending the ball sailing over the left-field wall and helping the A’s rally from a four-run, first-inning deficit.
“I’m just happy to hit my first home run in the big leagues, especially a game-winner,” Diaz, who made 14 starts last September and October, said through an interpreter. “I was just trying to put on a good at-bat.”
Zach Jackson (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the win. Jeurys Familia worked a scoreless ninth for his first save this season.
Jonah Heim hit a three-run homer for the second consecutive game for Texas, which had its four-game winning streak stopped despite taking an early 4-0 lead.
Rangers starter Jon Gray allowed only one hit through the first three innings before running into trouble. He gave up four runs — three earned — in 5 1/3 innings on five hits with five walks, one hit batter and two wild pitches.
Heim, acquired from Oakland in February 2021, pulled a high fastball from JP Sears into the lower deck in left field. He has four homers in his last eight games after hitting none in his first six games. Heim also picked Ryan Noda off first base in the fourth inning and threw out Conner Capel trying to steal second in the second inning.
The A’s battled back with one run in the fourth inning, two in the fifth and one in the sixth. The first of their fifth-inning runs came on Tony Kemp’s first homer of the season to end an 0-for-23 slump.
Sears allowed four runs just six batters into his start, but then gave up only two more singles through six innings. He set career highs in strikeouts (11) and pitches (101).
“I was pretty upset with myself, not the way I wanted to start it,” said Sears, acquired at last year’s trade deadline from the New York Yankees. “I (then) just tried to stay in the zone and do my thing.”
“He started hitting his spots,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said of Sears. “He was probably a batter away from leaving that ballgame.”
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
On the 51st anniversary of the Rangers’ first home game ever in Arlington in 1972, they wore their new City Connect uniforms for the first time. It was also on that date in 1836 that Texas gained independence and in 1868 that the first championship baseball game in Texas was played.
The uniforms pay homage to those events, along with the area’s two professional teams of the 1950s – the Dallas Eagles and Fort Worth Panthers/Cats – plus the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs that played in Arlington before the American League’s Washington Senators moved there.
Rangers rookie 3B Josh Jung extended his hitting streak to nine games. … A’s manager Mark Kotsay played for Bochy 2001-03 with San Diego. During Thursday’s off day, the two had lunch and later attended a Kenny Chesney concert together at Globe Life Field.
A’s: OF Ramon Laureano (groin strain) is playing catch and hitting back in California.
Rangers: RHP Jacob deGrom threw a bullpen Friday and is on schedule to start Sunday after leaving last Monday’s game at Kansas City after four hitless innings with wrist soreness.
A’s rookie RHP Shintaro Fujinami (0-3, 11.37 ERA) has improved after allowing eight runs in 2 1/3 innings in his big league debut. He’ll face LHP Andrew Heaney (1-1, 4.97), who gave up no earned runs over 10 innings in his last two starts.
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