A's Davis knocks in four to sink Rangers
Outfielder stays hot as Oakland positions itself for sweep
ARLINGTON -- The Rajai Davis Show rages on. And on. And on.Davis, who has gone from an extra outfielder to the plug that's sparked Oakland's offensive upswing, continued his torching of the American League on Tuesday. This time, the victims were the suddenly struggling Rangers, who watched helplessly as Davis inserted himself into all four of the A's rallies on the way to 6-1 victory. In the second game of a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark, Davis helped move Oakland to within a game of a sweep by improving his batting average for the month to .411 (23-for-56). He had three hits while matching his career high with four RBIs. Picked up early last season after the Giants put him on waivers, Davis essentially took over in center field after Matt Holliday was traded to the Cardinals in late July, and he's been a revelation ever since. On Tuesday, he scored his 12th run in 13 games and stole his 37th base of the season, an on-going career high. "He's a pretty good little player," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "He was a pretty good player with the Giants. Now he's getting an opportunity and taking advantage of it. He has some speed, makes contact and can run the ball down in the outfield." As complimentary as Washington was, Davis teammates' are even more effusive. In 53 games since the All-Star break, they've seen him go 69-for-199 (.347) with 16 doubles, three triples, a home run, 35 RBIs and an MLB-high 26 stolen bases. "It started even before he took over in center field, and it hasn't stopped" said right-hander Brad Ziegler, one of six Oakland pitchers who teamed up on a six-hitter on Tuesday. "As soon as he's on base, it changes everything for the pitcher, and our guys know that the more attention the pitcher is paying to Rajai, the less attention they're paying to the hitter. "They know they're gonna get something good to hit, and they've been taking advantage of that. It's been awesome." The A's had the worst offense in baseball before the All-Star break, ranking last in several key categories. Since the break, they're batting .279 -- third-best in the AL. Through the first seven games of the current road trip, which Oakland can close with a 6-2 record by winning on Wednesday, the team's batting average is .314. "They are a lot better team than the one we played earlier this season," said Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd, whose club has lost four of five while fading in the AL Wild Card race. Davis got the A's going with his legs in the top of the first. After reaching on a fielder's choice, he stole second and scooted to third when Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez's throw to second bounced into center field. Davis scored on a groundout by Ryan Sweeney. A's, 1-0. "When he's out there, something always happens," said Oakland first baseman Daric Barton, who was on base three times and scored twice. "If someone makes a mistake, he's always going to take advantage of it." Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy issued three walks in the second, the third of them a bases-loaded pass to Davis, and the A's chased McCarthy with nobody out in the fourth when Barton followed Mark Ellis' leadoff single with a double. With two out in the frame, Davis dumped a two-run single into right field. "He's a threat in every way," Barton gushed. "He can run like crazy, he's a terror on the basepaths, he can hit, he has some pop, he plays great 'D' out there, runs everything down. He just makes us go." Texas finally broke through against A's starter Edgar Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth, getting a leadoff homer from David Murphy. Gonzalez was pulled after giving up a double and a walk to open the fifth, and lefty Craig Breslow escaped the jam and was credited with the win. Following Breslow, who also pitched the sixth, were Ziegler, Jerry Blevins, Michael Wuertz and Andrew Bailey. The relievers gave up one hit a night after Brett Tomko trumped Texas with a five-hit shutout. "It's big for a lot of reasons," A's manager Bob Geren said of the pitching staff's success against the Rangers. "They've got 200 homers and a ton of stolen bases; they can beat you in a lot of different ways. So, yeah, what we've done has been a very good feat so far." Oakland padded the lead in the sixth. Cliff Pennington led off with a triple off hard-throwing rookie righty Neftali Feliz, and after a walk to Adam Kennedy, Davis lined an RBI single to left. Sweeney was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Kurt Suzuki picked up his team-leading 75th RBI with a walk. Four rallies, four indelible imprints from Davis. "Pitchers are so worried about him, they forget about us," Barton said. "He's been amazing."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.