OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Michael Choice acknowledged it was an extra special victory. Playing against his former team, and leading off for the first time with his new squad, Choice had to smile.
Choice singled in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning and the Texas Rangers rallied to beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Tuesday night.
“You always want to do something good against the ex,” Choice said. “It meant a lot to be in that situation.”
Josh Wilson doubled to drive in the tying run just ahead of Choice, who began his career with the A’s.
“That’s why I put him in there,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington, a long-time coach for the A’s before taking over in Texas. “I wanted him to come through for us. He played a solid game.”
With Shin-Soo Choo unavailable due to a sprained left ankle, Washington turned to Choice to start things off from the top of the lineup. His confidence was rewarded.
Choice walked his first two at bats, scored a run, made several nice plays in left field and put the Rangers ahead to stay.
“I was just looking to get Willie in,” Choice said. “In spring we got a sense that we were all together, all on the same page. It has carried over into the season.”
Alexi Ogando (1-1) recorded one out in the eighth to pick up the win. Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Luke Gregerson (0-1) took the loss after blowing his third save opportunity. He gave up two runs on three hits. Gregerson appeared to have pitched out of trouble when he threw out pinch hitter Mitch Moreland at the plate on a safety squeeze by Leonys Martin for the second out.
“It’s funny, you get a gift like that, a nice ball come right back to you, you get the guy at home,” Gregerson said. “I just didn’t execute my pitches, I didn’t get the ball down in the zone like I wanted to.”
Martin stole second and scored when Wilson, who cost the Rangers two runs with a fielding error in the fourth, doubled.
Donnie Murphy had two hits and drove in a run for the Rangers, who won their seventh in eight games.
Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson and Eric Sogard drove in runs for the A’s, who lost their second straight for the first time this season. Josh Reddick had two hits.
“That’s tough,” A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie said. “You think you’re sitting in the driver’s seat and then a stolen base, a good at-bat by Wilson, Choice sneaks one up the middle, all of a sudden we’re down by one. You could kind of feel the wind come out of the sails there.”
A’s starter Tommy Milone allowed three runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out one.
Nick Martinez was recalled from Double-A to make the start for the Rangers. He lasted five innings, allowing four runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out one.
“It was a lot of fun,” Martinez said. “It was a great game the way the guys came through with big hits.”
Three of Milone’s walks came in the first inning, when the Rangers took a 2-0 lead. Murphy singled home one run and Robinson Chirinos walked with the bases loaded.
The A’s answered in their half of the first. Lowrie doubled and scored when Donaldson singled. Cespedes hit a double, allowing Donaldson to score.
The Rangers regained the lead in the third. Alex Rios walked and went to third on Prince Fielder’s single. Kevin Kouzmanoff hit into a double play, with Rios scoring.
Kouzmanoff left the game after the top of the fourth with tightness in his back. Luis Sardinas entered the game at second base, with Wilson moving to third.
“The cold weather got to him,” Washington said of Kouzmanoff. “We wanted to get him out of there before it got worse.”
NOTES: A’s OF Coco Crisp, who fell hard and bruised his ribs during Monday night’s game, had X-Rays taken that were negative. … A’s LHP Eric O’Flaherty (Tommy John surgery) threw all his pitches at full distance during a bullpen session, encouraging A’s manager Bob Melvin to ask if he was available for an inning. … The A’s rejected the Oakland-Alameda County Authority’s 10-year lease proposal.