Rangers 4, Athletics 3

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Jason Botts hit his first career home run and Ian Kinsler drove in a run with a broken-bat grounder that pushed the Texas Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday night.

Texas had the bases loaded in the sixth when Kinsler shattered his bat on a grounder that went only about a third of the way up the first-base line. Dan Johnson fielded the slow roller and all he could do was tag Kinsler out while Brad Wilkerson scored the go-ahead run.

The Rangers won three of four in the weekend series to build a three-game lead in the AL West over Oakland, their closest competitor.

Botts, who has split time at designated hitter with struggling Phil Nevin since being recalled Tuesday, was 2-for-2, adding a double in the eighth after he walked twice. Kinsler was 2-for-4, raising his average to .429 (15-for-35) in his 12 games, the last four since returning from the disabled list from a dislocated left thumb.

Vicente Padilla (5-3) allowed three runs and five hits over six innings. He struck out four and walked three, two of those batters who led off innings and then scored. The game was tied when the right-hander threw his last pitch, but the Rangers led before Scott Feldman relieved Padilla to start the seventh.

Akinori Otsuka, the fourth reliever, worked the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances.

Oakland’s Kirk Saarloos (2-3) allowed only four hits over seven innings, but was hurt by a career-high seven walks.

Brad Wilkerson walked and scored twice for the Rangers, on Botts’ homer in the second and on Kinsler’s grounder.

After a flyball to start the sixth, Texas loaded the bases on two walks and a single before Kinsler batted.

The Rangers led 3-1 after Botts hit a 399-foot homer to right-center field in the second.

A 46th-round pick in 1999, Botts made his major league debut in 10 games last season. He had 10 homers in 40 games at Triple-A Oklahoma this season, and led all Rangers minor leaguers with 25 homers and 102 RBIs last season.

Johnson was 0-for-4, but had RBI groundouts his first two at-bats. The A’s tied the game at 3 in the sixth when Jason Kendall had a one-out double and scored on a single by Eric Chavez, getting a game at designated hitter while 38-year-old Frank Thomas got a night out of the starting lineup.

Thomas pinch hit and drew a walk in the eighth off Francisco Cordero, who had already allowed two singles. Adam Melhuse, another pinch hitter, then lined out to end the inning.

Both of Johnson’s groundouts drove in runners who had led off innings with walks, Chavez in the second and Mark Kotsay in the fourth.

Notes: Rangers SS Michael Young went 0-for-3 with a walk, extending his hitless streak to 14 at-bats – his longest since going 0-for-14 from September 7-11, 2002. That was also the last time he was hitless in three straight games when he had an official at-bat. … Saarloos is 0-3 with a 7.59 ERA (18 earned runs over 21 1-3 innings) in eight games, three starts, on the road this season. … Nevin has two hits in his last 25 at-bats, both home runs. … Johnson is hitting .183 (11-for-60) over the past 18 games – and .186 for the season.

AP-ES-05-28-06 2304EDT

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