OAKLAND -- Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin stifled his former Athletics club, compiling eight strikeouts in a commanding 7-0 series-opening victory at the Coliseum on Monday evening to snap Texas' three-game losing streak.
"Yeah, you want to put together a good game wherever you pitch but it makes it a little sweeter when it's against your old team," Griffin said. "I haven't pitched here in a long time; it was fun."
Griffin held the punchless A's to one hit across six scoreless innings as his teammates went to work against right-hander Jharel Cotton. Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez christened the game with a base hit, scoring the first run on Nomar Mazara's double and and later tagging Cotton for another hit in a four-run fifth inning that included two walks.
"I think I let off a little bit," Cotton said. "I wasn't attacking like I was doing in the earlier innings. I should've kept attacking the guys, but I tried to be too cheap with the pitches, and it caused two walks, and that's what haunted me. It's a learning experience."
Cotton, who twirled seven scoreless innings in his previous start in Kansas City, was roughed up for five runs in this one. The rookie pitcher yielded five hits and walked four in 5 1/3 innings, striking out three in the loss. Oakland has dropped four consecutive games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Walk this way: The A's gifted the Rangers three free passes in the fifth inning, each resulting in a run in Texas' four-run frame. Cotton issued walks to Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Gallo to begin the inning, and Jurickson Profar's sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third for Gomez. The Rangers leadoff man sent a two-run double past center fielder Rajai Davis, who was charged with an error on the play when Gomez reached third. After Cotton struck out Elvis Andrus, the A's elected to intentionally walk Mazara to pitch to Mike Napoli, who made them pay for the decision with a two-run double to cap the inning. Texas' final two runs, coming against Liam Hendriks in the ninth, also stemmed from a pair of walks.
"Throwing strikes is something we preach," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Don't give them free passes. But here recently, not only have we done it, but it's cost us. It is a concern, and we got to continue to try to pound the strike zone."
Basepath blunder: Oakland squashed its early scoring opportunity in the first inning. Davis drew a leadoff walk against Griffin and made a dash for second base, initially appearing to secure his second stolen base of the season -- second-base umpire Bill Welke flashed a safe signal -- only to slide past the bag and be tagged out by Andrus. From that point on, Griffin retired all but one of his final batters.
"Those sacrifice bunts only work if the guy coming up behind him drives in the runs." -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister, who set up a pair of two-run hits with sacrifice bunts
The Rangers challenged the ruling that Andrus was out at first base on a ground ball to third in the ninth inning. The call was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Yu Darvish pitches against the Athletics at 9:05 p.m. CT at the Oakland Coliseum. Darvish is 3-10 with a 4.43 ERA in 15 career starts against Oakland.
A's: The A's will send right-hander Andrew Triggs (2-0) to the mound for Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. PT matchup with the Rangers at the Coliseum. Triggs has not allowed an earned run in 11 2/3 innings this season.