OAKLAND -- Josh Hamilton, slumped on a couch in the clubhouse, tried to explain what happened but had trouble. The disappointment of the afternoon was difficult to accept. "I saw it off the bat," Hamilton said about a fly ball that changed the Rangers' whole afternoon. "I saw it at its highest point ... I lost it. ... I never saw it after that. Just one of those days, man. [Scott] Feldman pitches his rear off and something like that happens. Nothing you can do about it now." The Rangers had a chance for their first three-game sweep of the season and couldn't finish the job. One lost fly ball in the sun seemed to change everything, and the Rangers couldn't recover.
Instead, the Athletics wiped out the Rangers' 1-0 lead with three runs in the bottom of the seventh and went on to a 3-1 victory at McAfee Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. The Rangers, who won the first two games of the series, now go on to Seattle to open a four-game series with the Mariners on Monday night at Safeco Field. "We would have loved to have swept," shortstop Michael Young said. "We would have loved to have gone to Seattle 3-0 on this trip. It didn't happen. We've got to take the positives out of this. Feldman pitched well; we just didn't push enough runs across. We'll be all right. We're playing good ball, we just have to continue what we were doing." Feldman did pitch well, but so did Athletics rookie left-hander Greg Smith, and this was an afternoon where neither team could afford to make a major mistake. German Duran gave Feldman a 1-0 lead in the third inning with his first Major League home run, but that was all the Rangers could do against Smith. The rookie left-hander held them to just three hits and struck out 10. He and three relievers were especially tough on the middle of the Rangers order. Hamilton, Milton Bradley, David Murphy and Brandon Boggs -- Nos. 3-6 in the lineup -- were a combined 1-for-16 with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon. Bradley struck out all four times he came to the plate. "The guy was tough," Murphy said. "He spotted his fastball well. His slider wasn't the nastiest I've seen, but he spotted it well and it had late break. He lived on the corners. He didn't throw a whole lot of pitches over the middle of the plate." The Rangers are now 1-5 on the season when a left-hander starts for the opposition. "We've been facing left-handers all year," manager Ron Washington said. "This one got to us. But he was beat 1-0 when he left the game. We just didn't put any more runs across. To win the game we had to shut them out, and we didn't shut them out today." Feldman, who is from the Bay Area and had over 30 family and friends at the game, did take a three-hit shutout into the seventh and started that inning by getting Frank Thomas to hit a high fly ball to center. Hamilton seemed to track it but lost it in the sun. The ball fell behind him for a double. Jack Cust then jumped on a fastball and smashed it deep over the left-center field wall for a two-run home run to give the Athletics the lead. "A fastball ... up a little too much," Feldman said. "I tried to forget about that one play. Josh has made some unbelievable plays for us, so you can't let that fluster you. I threw the pitch where I wanted it, just not quite well enough." The Athletics weren't through. Bobby Crosby doubled with one out, and, after Frank Francisco replaced Feldman, Ryan Sweeney singled to center to give the Athletics an extra run. They didn't seem to need it. The Rangers had four hits on the afternoon but just one in the final six innings. That came when Boggs doubled with two out in the ninth. The Rangers had just two hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position all afternoon. Feldman has made two starts for the Rangers, and both qualify as quality starts. But the Rangers lost both in the late innings, including a 5-4 loss to Toronto on April 13. "I felt great how I pitched until the seventh inning," Feldman said. "Overall, I was happy with the way I threw, but it's a bittersweet deal. It's great pitching in front of family and friends in a place where I grew up, but it's real frustrating that we let that one slip away." The Rangers have still taken two of three in their last three series. They just wanted one more win to show for their stay in Oakland. "It was one of those days, that's all it was," Washington said. "We did what we wanted to do, and that's win the series. When we came in here, those guys were in first place. Now we go to Seattle and hopefully we can do the same thing."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.