Cruz helps Rangers edge Athletics

Nelson Cruz belted a pair of homers, including the go-ahead two-run blast in the fifth inning, and Texas broke a six-game skid with an 8-7 win over the Oakland Athletics.

The A's scored six times in the fourth inning off Rangers starter Nick Tepesch, but failed to hold on in the opener of this four-game series.

The Rangers, who trimmed Oakland's lead to two games in the AL West, received a homer and three RBI from A.J. Pierzynski. Texas also broke a six-game losing streak at home.

Joe Nathan gave up a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to Coco Crisp in the ninth inning, but retired Derek Norris on a pop-up to third baseman Adrian Beltre. Nathan secured his 21st save of the year.

Tepesch gave up six hits and as many runs over 3 2/3 frames. Neal Cotts (3-1) threw 2 1/3 hitless frames to get the win.

"They settled it down and gave us a chance to keep grinding, which we did," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of his team's bullpen.

Dan Straily surrendered eight hits and six runs over 4 2/3 innings.

"He left a few more pitches up than he usually does," A's shortstop Jed Lowrie said of Straily. "They took advantage of it."

Jesse Chavez (1-1) was saddled with the loss.

The Rangers were outscored 34-8 during their losing streak, but after falling behind in the top of the fourth, their bats came alive. Cruz homered to left- center field in the bottom half to get the Rangers within 6-4.

Ian Kinsler singled in the fifth and later scored on Pierzynski's double over the glove of Josh Reddick in right field. Cruz then homered to center an on 0-2 pitch from Chavez.

Cruz doubled over the third base bag to bring in Beltre in the seventh inning, but the A's nearly tied the game in the ninth. They loaded the bases thanks to a double from Seth Smith, walk to Lowrie and single from pinch-hitter Chris Young when the ball dropped in front of Leonys Martin's glove in center field. After Crisp's fly ball to left, Norris popped up the first pitch he saw.

Pierzynski homered off the pole in right field to give Texas a 2-0 lead in the second, and Kinsler singled in Martin in the third.

The A's sent 10 men to the plate in the fourth, though, highlighted by Smith's two-run single and an RBI double from Jed Lowrie. The inning was a frustrating one for the Rangers, considering Beltre had a ball deflect off his body and to shortstop. Elvis Andrus threw back to third to get John Jaso, but Beltre missed the tag to set up a first-and-third situation. The avalanche of runs began with Brandon Moss' RBI single and also saw Eric Sogard and Crisp drive in runs.

Game Notes

The Rangers kept struggling designated hitter Lance Berkman out of the lineup for a second straight game. He's batting .192 in his last 21 contests to drop from .309 to .266, his lowest average this season ... Texas' six-game skid was its longest since April 15-21, 2010, also a six-game slide ... Jaso has reached base safely in a career-high 16 consecutive games.