Oakland's Josh Donaldson took an aggressive approach in hopes of scoring the tying run in the top of the ninth inning.
However, his decision to ignore a stop sign by third base coach Mike Gallego proved costly, as he was cut down at the plate for the final out in the Texas Rangers' 4-3 win over the AL West-leading Athletics on Thursday afternoon.
Joe Nathan was tasked with protecting a lead Texas obtained in the seventh inning on Ian Kinsler's two-out, two-run single. After striking out the first two batters, Nathan gave up a single to Donaldson, his third hit of the game.
Seth Smith then lined a Nathan offering to center field. Craig Gentry, playing deep to prevent an extra-base hit, had the ball kick away briefly after fielding it on a bounce.
Once he saw Gentry bobble the ball, Donaldson opted not to drop anchor at third. Gentry recovered to get the ball to Elvis Andrus and the shortstop made a relay throw to catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who applied a swipe tag on Donaldson to secure a series win for the Rangers.
"The way the ball bounced away from Craig and [Donaldson] was running on the pitch, he kind of peeked at the third base coach and [I] saw him coming the whole time," said Pierzynski. "It was the right call. It literally took a perfect relay throw to get him."
Geovany Soto belted a solo homer for Texas, which took three of four in this set to trim Oakland's division lead to one game.
The Athletics plated a run in three straight innings from the fifth, but each time they failed to follow up with a shutdown frame.
The contest remained scoreless until Jed Lowrie singled home John Jaso, but the Rangers countered in the home fifth on Soto's blast to center.
Texas starter Josh Lindblom departed after giving up consecutive singles to open the sixth. Joseph Ortiz walked the lone batter he faced before Jason Frasor issued another free pass to pinch-hitter Chris Young to force in a run.
One factor in the loss was Oakland's inability to produce hits with runners in scoring position.
Robbie Ross replaced Frasor and prevented any further damage, sandwiching strikeouts around a Coco Crisp pop up.
Kinsler scored on a Ryan Cook wild pitch in the bottom of the inning to tie things up at 2-2. Cook had relieved starter A.J. Griffin, who walked Kinsler to begin the sixth. Kinsler advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a flyout to right.
The A's grabbed their third lead with the help of an error. With two men aboard and one out in the seventh, Donaldson hit a chopper to short off Tanner Scheppers (5-0). Andrus tried to get the lead runner at third, but his throw hit Lowrie, who scored when the ball caromed into foul territory.
An intentional walk to Smith followed, loading the bases. Once again, the A's were devoid of a clutch hit. Young grounded into a force out at the plate and Scheppers struck out Adam Rosales to keep the deficit at 3-2.
"I felt like we had that game to win the entire game," said Griffin. "[The Rangers] capitalized on their opportunities and we had the bases loaded a couple of times and only got one run out of it. I guess they executed their pitches."
David Murphy led off the home seventh with a double, but was tagged out on a bunt by Robinson Chirinos. Sean Doolittle (3-2) took over on the mound and a pinch-hitting Pierzynski greeted him with a single. Two batters later, Leonys Martin reached on an infield single to load the bases, setting the stage for Kinsler, who drove in a pair with a grounder up the middle.
Nelson Cruz robbed Jaso of extra bases in the eighth with a catch up against the wall in right and the tying run on first. Scheppers then got Lowrie to grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The A's finished 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base ... Nathan earned his 22nd save of the season ... Texas completed its homestand with a 4-7 record ... The Rangers won a series for the first time since taking two of three from Kansas City May 31-June 2 ... Texas improved to 8-1-1 in series against AL West clubs in 2013 ... Kinsler stole his fourth base of the year and tied Bump Wills (161) for the most steals in club history ... Oakland has dropped consecutive series for the first time since losing three straight from May 6-15 ... Lindblom gave up two runs on eight hits in five-plus innings ... Griffin allowed two runs and three hits over 5 1/3 innings.