Athletics 5, Rangers 4, 11 innings
Wednesday, April 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ John Rocker blew the lead, not his top.
Oakland scored a run off Rocker in the ninth in his first save chance for the Texas Rangers to tie the game, and the Athletics went on to win 5-4 in the 11th on Greg Myers' RBI single Tuesday night.
``I'm not consistent at this time of the year. I'm not in midseason form,'' Rocker said. ``Maybe if it was the middle of the season, I wouldn't hang an 0-1 slider.''
For the small group of reporters that waited him out after the late-night game, Rocker was cordial. At other times since coming to Texas during the offseason, including after his only other appearance before Tuesday, he has made it clear he wasn't in the mood to chat.
Eric Chavez homered twice for Oakland, including a solo shot in the 10th off Rudy Seanez. Texas rallied for one run off Billy Koch (2-0) in the bottom half, but the Rangers couldn't score the winning run despite having the bases loaded and nobody out.
Alex Rodriguez, hitting just .186 (.5-for-27), homered with one out in the eighth to put the Rangers ahead 3-2, but Rocker couldn't hold the lead in the ninth.
Rocker struck out Miguel Tejada to start the ninth, but Terrence Long then tripled to left. Mike Colangelo grounded out to third before Myers doubled, on a hanging slider like Long hit, into the right-field corner to tie it.
``He had good command,'' Rangers manager Jerry Narron said. ``He just made a mistake and got the ball up.''
Rocker finally got out of the ninth when Carlos Pena, a top prospect the Rangers traded to the Athletics this winter, struck out. Pena beat his former team with a ninth-inning homer last week in Oakland.
Pena also hit a three-run homer off Rocker in the ninth inning of the reliever's only other appearance for Texas, a 7-5 win at Oakland last Thursday that wasn't a save situation.
``Pitchers like Billy and me, our game is not finesse and it takes a little while for us to get our command,'' Rocker said. ``It seems if I sit for four or five days, I'm really rusty.''
Texas is 1-6 for only the third time ever, and the first since 1987.
The Rangers, who have baseball's third-richest payroll at $105 million, are already 4 1/2 games behind the AL West-leading A's. Oakland's $39.7 million payroll is the third-lowest in the league.
Long led off the 11th with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Myers' hit off Seanez (0-1). Koch then closed it out with a perfect 11th.
``I felt like I let the team down,'' Koch said. ``I also kept us in it. Don't ask me how.''
Koch blew his second save for Oakland by giving up a four-pitch walk to Rusty Greer with the bases loaded in the 10th. But he got out of the jam by getting three straight grounders to second baseman Frank Menechino.
``Billy stayed composed, and he had to,'' said Myers, catching because regular starter Ramon Hernandez was back in California to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.
Chavez's homer off Texas starter Kenny Rogers gave Oakland a 2-1 lead in the sixth. Herbert Perry led off the Rangers seventh with his first homer, ending a streak of five straight strikeouts by A's starter Barry Zito.
Rodriguez, who had driven in just one the first six games, had an RBI single in the first after Oakland had jumped ahead on Menechino's RBI single.