Montas strong in return, but Oakland A’s bullpen falters in loss to Rangers

OAKLAND — Frankie Montas pitched seven strong innings in his first start since taking a batted ball off his pitching hand, but the A’s bullpen was tagged for three runs in the top of the ninth inning in a 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Thursday night at the Coliseum.

The attendance at the Coliseum was 3,203. It’s the fifth time this season that the crowd has been less than 3,300.

Montas struck out 11 and allowed three hits and an unearned run, which came after a fielding error by shortstop Elvis Andrus. Montas, who had to leave his start on Sunday in the second inning after injuring two fingers on his right hand, moved into a tie with Catfish Hunter for third place on the A’s list with nine games with 10 or more strikeouts. Vida Blue holds the franchise record with 21

The A’s didn’t do much against Rangers starter Martin Perez either, sending the game into the ninth tied at 1-1.

But the Rangers broke the opener of the four-game series open when Adolis García doubled in pinch-runner Eli White in the top of the ninth inning off Lou Trivino, and Nathaniel Lowe followed with a two-run homer off Sam Moll.

Chad Pinder had two hits for Oakland. The A’s have lost 12 of their last 14 at home.

The A’s missed an opportunity in the seventh when leadoff hitter Christian Bethancourt was ruled out for interference. Bethancourt bunted down the first base line and went to second when Pérez’s flip throw to first baseman Lowe sailed down the line. Umpires quickly made the out call and A’s manager Mark Kotsay came out to argue. Andrus, the next batter, doubled.

Oakland Athletics manager Mark Kotsay, left, argues with home plate umpire Mark Ripperger after Christian Bethancourt was called out for running out of the base path during the seventh inning of the team’s baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Darren Yamashita)

García and Kole Calhoun each had two hits as the Rangers won their second straight after dropping three in a row on their 10-game road trip. Texas also scored a run on a bases-loaded walk by Andy Ibañez.

Jonah Heim, a former A’s catcher who was traded to Texas before the 2021 season in the Andrus trade, began the winning rally off Trivino (1-3) with a single up the middle just past the glove of diving second baseman Sheldon Neuse. After White replaced Heim, Garcia lashed a sharp double into the left field corner. Lowe, who was in a 10-for-78 funk (.128), then hit his third home run of the season.

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