OAKLAND -- Two questions lingered in the Rangers' clubhouse after they had been beaten by the Athletics for the third time in four games.What happened to Yu Darvish's control? And what has happened to the Rangers' offense lately? There weren't many profound answers after a 7-1 loss to the Athletics on Thursday afternoon at the Coliseum. Both issues were perplexing for a team that has also lost seven of its past nine and is 18-21 since April 26. "It was walks that hurt Darvish, and we didn't supply enough runs," manager Ron Washington said, succinctly summing up the afternoon. The Rangers finished the series hitting .182 in four games, with eight runs scored and just seven extra-base hits. During their last nine games, the Rangers are hitting .247 with a .361 slugging percentage and 30 runs scored. "Oakland's pitching staff did a good job this series," Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "But it was a little bit of both, us being in a slump, or not hitting, or hitting the ball right at people, them making good plays, us not getting any broken bats. There are a whole lot of things we can talk about. "Looking over the last three years ... this is out of the ordinary. What makes us so good is that it's usually two, three guys who are getting it done, and it's different people all the time. Right now, nobody is doing it." This time, the Rangers struggled against Brandon McCarthy, their former teammate who held them to one run on three hits. McCarthy did not walk a batter and struck out five. The one victory for the Rangers this series was against left-hander Travis Blackley, and they hit just .148 with a .193 slugging percentage against Oakland's right-handed pitchers. "It's obvious we're not swinging the bats the way we're capable," Washington said. "Those are the guys who got us here, and those are the guys who are going to take us where we want to go. We just have to be patient and we'll come out of it." Darvish said he started the day feeling good. But the Athletics took a 1-0 lead in the first after Jemille Weeks led off with a single. Darvish retired the next two hitters, but a pair of two-out singles by Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith plated Weeks with the first run. Coco Crisp hit his first home run of the season in the third to make it 2-0. The Rangers got a run back in the top of the fourth when Hamilton doubled and scored on a single by Adrian Beltre. But Darvish ran into control problems in the bottom of the fourth, and that's when everything fell apart. "I felt very good in the first three innings, and I felt I could maintain that the whole game," Darvish said. "But in the fourth inning ... it just went south. Mechanically, that inning, it went very off." The Athletics also learned a few things from the last time they faced Darvish, which was a 4-1 Rangers win on May 16. "We were patient," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "A guy like that, typically you can try to do a little too much early in the count at his pitch. Last time, we were probably a little too aggressive early in the count. This time, we made him throw the ball over the plate and got into some good counts. "You got to take advantage of a guy like that if his command's not on, try to get him in some predictable counts, because he has so many pitches. It's tough to think along with him, and if you can get ahead of him, it certainly narrows down what you have to look for." Darvish retired Smith on a foul pop, but walked Brandon Inge and Brandon Moss. He was ahead 0-2 on Kurt Suzuki and ended up hitting him with a pitch. Cliff Pennington followed with a sacrifice that brought home Inge. Darvish re-loaded the bases by walking Weeks. Crisp followed with a drive to deep right field just beyond the reach of Nelson Cruz, rattling off the wall for a three-run triple. "It was just one of those days for us," Crisp said. "He's obviously an outstanding pitcher. 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 was in an 0-for-16 hitting slump before his home run, and was hitting .158 coming into the game. But his triple made it 6-1, and the Rangers only mustered one hit in the last five innings. "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." The Rangers would like their own hitters to look like themselves.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.