OAKLAND -- For a while now, A's manager Bob Melvin has been saying how important it was to get outfielder Coco Crisp back on track, what with Crisp's ability to affect games with his speed on the bases at the top of the order.
Melvin has also said that he expected Crisp to break through soon, even though he had hit just .106 going into Thursday in 14 games since coming off of the disabled list.
In the series finale against Texas, Crisp finally fulfilled Melvin's prediction, busting through with a two-hit, four-RBI day to pace the A's to a 7-1 win over the Rangers.
"This is a guy that we rely heavily on," Melvin said. "When somebody struggles that's important to us, we all feel it. For him to get going today, the home run and then certainly the three-run [triple], it's a sense of relief. We definitely need him. Our offense is at its best when he's on base and doing his thing on the bases. Great feeling."
The victory meant Oakland claimed its first series since the team took two out of three from Tampa Bay from May 4-6 -- and over first-place Texas no less, which entered the contest with the best record in the American League. After a nine-game losing streak that stretched through last Friday, Melvin's club has now won four of its past six games, and hits the road for a six-game Interleague trip with some momentum.
Things weren't exactly set up for a big offensive day for the A's on Thursday. Texas starter Yu Darvish allowed just one run over 7 2/3 innings in his first start against Oakland on May 16, and the home team's offensive struggles this season are well documented. It didn't help that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the A's biggest bat, had to leave the game in the first inning with a strained left hamstring.
"[Darvish]'s obviously an outstanding pitcher," Crisp said. "He has plus everything. I don't know what pitch he doesn't have, maybe a spitball or something like that. Every pitch that he throws up there is plus. I think he made a couple of mistakes that we were able to capitalize on, where in past games we've had a hard time doing that."
Crisp hit his first home run of the season in the bottom of the third, a solo shot to right that extended the A's lead to 2-0 and ended an 0-for-16 streak for the outfielder. An inning later, Crisp came through in the clutch after Oakland took advantage of Darvish's wildness.
The Japanese pitcher loaded the bases twice on three walks and a hit batter, and after he loaded them a second time, Crisp cleared the bases with a triple.
"After playing like horse manure? It always feels good to play well," said Crisp of his breakout day.
Darvish tied a season high with six walks over his 5 1/3 innings, and his six earned runs were also a season high.
"I didn't know if [Crisp] was in a slump or not, but today he looked like an incredible hitter," Darvish said. "He looked like our Hamilton."
First baseman Brandon Moss added a solo shot in the seventh that plated the team's seventh run, giving him a home run in just his second game for the A's.
That was plenty of run support for Oakland right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who extended his solid run by shutting down a Texas lineup that is among the Major League leaders in most offensive categories. McCarthy tallied his fifth win in his last five decisions by allowing just three hits and one run over seven innings on Thursday.
The righty has now allowed three runs over 13 innings in two starts since coming off the DL. He only threw 88 pitches for the day, with he and Melvin trying to be careful with the right shoulder that sidelined him in the first place.
"[I] felt like I was able to throw a lot of strikes early and often, and get ahead of guys," McCarthy said. "We picked a game plan before the game, and I thought we stuck to that well. A lot of it was execution, just me and [catcher Kurt Suzuki] syncing up."
McCarthy said the series win over the Rangers reflected how different this Oakland team is compared to last season, when the A's would let Texas "outplay us right out of the stadium." This year seems to be different story. The A's now lead the season series 4-2, and though they were coming off of their worst stretch of the season heading into this four-game set, the team managed to regroup in time to beat its first-place rivals.
"Offensively, we did some good things this series, certainly pitching, and our defense has been real good too," Melvin said. "We played all facets all series. You have to play that way to beat a team like that three out of four, and we did."
Ben Estes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.