ARLINGTON, Texas – A.J. Griffin held down baseball's top-scoring team Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Oakland Athletics' 24-year-old rookie starter, his bullpen didn't help him pick up his first career victory.
Craig Gentry had a bases-loaded triple with two outs in the eighth to spoil Griffin's stellar performance as the streaking Texas Rangers beat the A's 4-3 on Friday night.
Griffin allowed two singles in six shutout innings before Oakland's bullpen gave up four runs in the eighth.
"I always just try to go out there, do my job and just keep us in the game." said Griffin, who gave up two runs in his debut Sunday against San Francisco. "It's pretty satisfying to do well against a team like that. But it was a bittersweet game."
Elvis Andrus singled with one out in the eighth off reliever Grant Balfour (1-2), and Josh Hamilton and Michael Young walked to load the bases.
On a 3-2 pitch, Cruz walked to force in Andrus and cut Oakland's lead to 2-1. Ryan Cook, who had allowed opponents to hit just .102 against him, replaced Balfour and gave up Gentry's game-deciding triple with two outs.
Oakland left fielder Yoenis Cespedes appeared to misjudge Gentry's deep fly ball. Cespedes took a couple of steps in at first and then sprinted back toward the wall, but the ball easily sailed over his head.
"It looked like he broke in," Melvin said. "I'm not 100 percent sure from my angle. I probably need to look at video."
Gentry was an unlikely hero for the Rangers, who have won four in a row and 16 of 20 since June 8. The speedy outfielder came in as a pinch-hitter for David Murphy in the seventh.
"I knew I hit it decent," Gentry said. "But to be honest, I thought he was going to catch it."
In his second career start, Griffin threw 67 of his 105 pitches for strikes and retired 13 in a row at one point before Hamilton's bloop single in the sixth.
Griffin struck out four and walked two against baseball's top-scoring team. Hamilton and Cruz had the only hits off Griffin, who started the season pitching for Double-A Midland.
"He certainly did his job against a lineup here in a venue that's tough to pitch in," Melvin said. "It was a great performance."
Matt Harrison (11-3) threw a season-high 121 pitches and allowed two runs and eight hits over eight innings. The left-hander joined Tampa Bay's David Price as the American League's only 11-game winners.
Harrison is making a push for his first All-Star game appearance two days before the teams are announced. He improved to 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA in six June starts.
"Our team can explode at any time and they did it in the eighth inning," Harrison said. "I just wanted put up as many zeros as I could to keep it close."
Cespedes was 2 for 4 and improved to 12 for 20 this season against Texas. Derek Norris and Jemile Weeks each had two hits for Oakland.
Weeks led off the fourth with a triple and scored on Cespedes' single in the fourth. Coco Crisp had a two-out, RBI single in the fifth to extend Oakland's lead to 2-0.
The A's lost the opener of the four-game series 7-6 on Thursday. In that one, Oakland couldn't tie the score despite having runners on first and third with one out in the ninth.
"It's frustrating, obviously." Melvin said. "I'm sorry I don't have better adjectives. But yes, frustrating would be the word."
Tanner Scheppers gave up a solo homer to Chris Carter with two outs in the ninth. He retired Seth Smith to end the game and pick up his first career save.
Washington said afterwards that eighth-inning reliever Mike Adams and closer Joe Nathan weren't available Friday. Nathan and Adams had both pitched the past three games.
Notes: Matt Hicks will join the Rangers radio broadcast team Saturday on a temporary basis. Steve Busby has moved from radio to television broadcasts while play-by-play announcer Dave Barnett is out with what he called "complicated migraines." Barnett has been off the air since June 18 when he gave a rambling, incoherent description that confused viewers. Hicks called games for the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Double-A affiliate for the Houston Astros, since 2004. ... Carter was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Friday. ... Balfour's streak of 11 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings over 10 games ended.