OAKLAND -- The A's threw almost everything they had at the Texas Rangers on Wednesday in an attempt to avoid a three-game sweep and hang on to first place in the American League West.
Despite playing at home and under the sun -- the A's entered the game with a league-best 8-1 mark in day games -- and with young stud Sonny Gray on the mound, the A's still got outplayed in a 3-0 loss at the Coliseum.
In the process, the Rangers moved into first place in the A.L. West. They are one-half game ahead of the A's, who departed Wednesday afternoon for a 10-game road trip that includes three games against the Rangers.
"They just beat us; not much you can say about that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They played better than we did and deserved to win. We just have to put it past us and get on the road and get a win under our belt and start rolling again."
The A's had many things working in their favor Wednesday. They just didn't have an answer for Rangers left-hander Martin Perez, and that trumped the A's vocal home crowd of 18,340, their recent history of playing well in the day and Gray's six-game win streak.
"We just ran into a really hot guy today," Gray said of Perez, who improved to 4-0, while Gray dropped to 3-1.
Perez is about as hot as they come right now. His three-hitter marked his second straight shutout and third straight outing in which he pitched at least eight innings without allowing a run.
Gray pitched well enough to keep the A's in the game through his seven innings. He allowed five hits and four walks as well as all three Rangers runs.
"Overall, I felt pretty good," Gray said. "It was just a tough day at the park."
Melvin said Perez proved adept at keeping hitters off balance and from making contact with the barrel of the bat on a consistent basis.
"He and the catcher were in sync and mixed it up enough to where even if you had a beat on him, the next time up he pitched a little differently," Melvin said. "You have to give him some credit. We didn't look too good, but the reason for it was probably him."
A's third baseman Josh Donaldson had one of the three hits off Perez, a double in the seventh. The A's lone threat came that inning, when Derek Norris walked and brought the potential tying run to the plate.
However, Perez induced Alberto Callaspo to hit into an inning-ending fielder's choice.
"He pitched well," Donaldson said. "We hit some balls hard on the ground but, obviously, that's what they're trying to do. Their defense played well behind him, too."
"We'll do the best we can with the matchups we can to try to finish off the game," Melvin said before Wednesday's game. "That's kind of where we are ... at this point."
On Tuesday, Luke Gregerson came one out away from notching his fourth save. Instead, he walked away with his third blown save in six opportunities, as well as the loss, after he allowed two runs in a 5-4 defeat.
Melvin sounded confident that Gregerson has the proper makeup to make it through rough patches.
"Certain guys need some coddling," Melvin said. "He's not one of them."
Just the same, he added, enough time has passed since he was traded to the Rangers in December that the novelty has worn off somewhat.
"Yeah, it was nice," Choice said. "It was a good feeling. Once I got up there, I was just trying to get the run in. At the end of the day, it's another game in a long season. We'll see those guys a lot in the future."
Choice started again Wednesday and batted leadoff against the team that selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft. He walked, singled, reached on an error, scored a run and drove in a run.
Follow Steve Corkran on Twitter at twitter.com/CorkOnTheNFL.
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