ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's possible the A's could have played a more up-and-down game than the one they produced in Thursday's 4-3 loss to Texas, but not without getting vertigo.

As it was, the general feeling in the Oakland clubhouse was that this game was the most frustrating of the 2013 season to date. And it left the A's with a one-game lead over the Rangers in the American League West.

Oakland had one-run leads three times. The A's could have had bigger leads but went 0 for 5 with the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings.

The A's pitchers were unable to contribute shutdown innings, giving up single runs in the fifth and sixth, then seeing the Rangers capitalize on their only bases-loaded chance when Ian Kinsler delivered a decisive two-run single.

The frustrations didn't end there. Kinsler's hit wouldn't have been decisive if Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz hadn't made a terrific leaping catch at the wall on John Jaso's fly ball with a man on in the eighth inning. "I was sure it was gone right off the bat," Jaso said.

And it wouldn't have been decisive if the Rangers hadn't made a blurry-quick relay in the ninth. Josh Donaldson was trying to score from first on Seth Smith's single to center that bounced off center fielder Craig Gentry.

"As soon as I saw it hit his chest, I was running all the way," Donaldson said. Third base coach Mike Gallego initially waved him home, then put up a stop sign. Too late. Gentry got the ball to shortstop Elvin Andrus, and Andrus' throw to the plate barely got to A.J. Pierzynski in time for the catcher to slap the tag on the sliding Donaldson, as home plate umpire Jordan Baker called the runner out and the game over.

"Today was a day of unbelievable frustration," manager Bob Melvin said. "We played hard every single pitch, every single out. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong."

The A's got a run in the fifth on Jed Lowrie's RBI single, but he was out trying to advance on a Rangers overthrow. In the sixth, the A's loaded the bases with no one out. Pinch-hitter Chris Young drew a walk to force in the run that gave Oakland a two-run lead, but with runs out there for the taking, the A's instead struck out (Adam Rosales), popped out (Coco Crisp) and struck out (Jaso).

Rosales struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh, bringing his career total with the bases full to 0 for 17. He said his sixth inning at-bat against left-hander Robbie Ross was the hardest to take.

"The bases are loaded, there's nobody out," he said. "You've got to get the job done. You've got to."

Oakland's run in the seventh came on an Andrus throwing error, after which the Rangers intentionally walked Seth Smith to load the bases.

It was almost as if Texas manager Ron Washington was betting having the bases loaded was playing around in the A's heads. Young grounded out and Rosales struck out.

Melvin, like Jaso, was convinced Jaso's line drive in the eighth was a homer, but Cruz tracked it down.

And then there was the two-out single by Smith. Donaldson, who had singled with two out to keep the game alive, was flying toward home, despite Gallego's stop sign. Andrus simply made an All-Star play. And with that, the Rangers climbed to within one game of the lead. There are three months of baseball to play, and there's going to be a dogfight in the A.L. West.

  • Lowrie went 3 for 5, his 10th three-hit game of the season, his first since June 1 as he pushed his average up to .295.

  • After a 12-game skid in which he'd had just eight hits and a .170 average, Donaldson had three hits, his first three-hit game since June 5.

  • A.J. Griffin is winless in his last five starts. He left the game with a 2-1 lead. Twice in his last four starts he's allowed one or zero runs and hasn't gotten a win.

  • Catcher Derek Norris was walking very gingerly around the A's clubhouse before the game, the result of being hit hard Wednesday by a foul ball on his groin. Norris volunteered to play if needed, but he got the day off.