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TEX@OAK: Colon dominates Rangers over eight innings

OAKLAND -- There's something about the Texas Rangers that brings out the best in Oakland A's right-hander Bartolo Colon.

Colon beat the Rangers for the 18th time in his career Wednesday night, holding them to five hits over eight innings in a 2-0 A's victory.

Colon, 39, improved to 18-6 against the Rangers in 28 career appearances, all starts. He has more wins against the Rangers than any other team. He was 12-1 with a 3.24 ERA over his previous 14 starts against the Rangers before Wednesday's gem.

Colon's 18 wins are tied for the second most by any pitcher against the Rangers, one victory shy of a record shared by Dennis Martinez, Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven.

"I didn't do that well all the time against them," Colon said. "This was one of the good games I pitched against them. ... I'm so happy with how I pitched tonight."

Colon struck out five, walked only one and threw just 100 pitches, 77 of them strikes. He outdueled Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, who took the loss despite allowing just six hits and two runs over eight innings in Texas' second complete game of the season. The game took just two hours and four minutes -- the fastest to date this season in the American League.

"We've seen that before," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Colon's rapid-fire gem. "We've seen that outing, and when he's got that much movement, both sides of the plate, and really today plus and minus on his fastball a little bit, 88 to 93, a few sliders. But it's the command of the fastball and staying on each corner that dictates where he's going, and once he gets into a rhythm -- I think the double play was big early in the game, and then after that he was semi-cruising."

Left-hander Brian Fuentes pitched a perfect ninth for the A's, earning his fifth save.

A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes gave Colon all the offensive support he needed. He doubled in the first and scored, hit a run-scoring single in the fourth and tripled in the sixth. This was his sixth start since coming off the disabled list Friday with an injured left hand.

"I'm not 100 percent, but the games I played in the Minor Leagues helped me a lot," Cespedes said of his rehab stint. "I got a chance to see a lot of pitches."

The A's took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Cespedes roped a leadoff double down the left-field line off Lewis and scored on Brandon Inge's one-out single to center.

The A's made it 2-0 in the fourth after another leadoff double, this time Josh Reddick sending a Lewis pitch into the right-field corner. Cespedes then ripped a single through the hole, under the glove of diving shortstop Elvis Andrus, bringing Reddick home.

"When he has good offensive nights, it always feels like we win," Melvin said of Cespedes. "And quality at-bats throughout the whole game today. The last one was the most impressive, the one he hit to right field, down in the count a little bit and hits the ball to right a little bit. It means he's seeing the ball well, and since he's come back it seems that was his best game as far as the quality of his swings and using the whole field. You could just see a confidence to it."

Colon, as usual, threw plenty of strikes, making the powerful Rangers put the ball in play.

"He knows they're a very good team, but he's beaten them so many times, he also pitches with confidence," Cespedes said.

Colon and Fuentes combined to hand Texas its first shutout of the season.

"He's still smart, and he still knows what he's doing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's what he does, he pitches. He's a very smart guy."

Rangers outfielder David Murphy, who went 0-for-2, gave credit where it was due.

"He didn't try to trick us," Murphy said. "He threw all fastballs. He changed locations, so he mixed it up in that regard, but he beat us by throwing fastballs."

Colon got plenty of help from his defense.

After Michael Young led off the second with a single, Reddick made a diving catch in right, retiring Nelson Cruz. Colon walked Murphy and gave up a single to Mike Napoli, loading the bases. But he escaped the inning unscathed when Mitch Moreland grounded into a double play.

In the third, the A's turned another double play, and Cespedes made a spectacular sliding catch of Josh Hamilton's fly ball down the left-field line.

New A's first baseman Brandon Moss, who was promoted Wednesday from Triple-A Sacramento, made a couple of nice plays, despite having spent most of his career in the outfield. He dug out Inge's long one-hop throw from behind the bag at third to retire Adrian Beltre in the sixth. Earlier in the inning he made a nice stretch to grab Inge's throw that beat the speedy Andrus.

Those plays helped the A's beat the first-place Rangers for the second time in three nights, with one game left in the series Thursday.

"I feel like we're getting better," Inge said. "We were a little beat up earlier when we faced them, but now we're getting back to a full squad. I feel we can compete with them, without a doubt."

Especially with Colon on the mound.

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