SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - Pitching into trouble was less concern for Texas Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch than his ability to escape the jam.
Tepesch gave up one run, three hits and two walks in three innings Saturday as a Rangers' split squad beat the
Oakland Athletics 4-3. All but a single came in the third inning.
``I felt like I didn't have my best stuff but I competed,' said Tepesch, whose ended the second and third innings with strikeouts. ``I tried to attack hitters and go right after them. I felt like pretty good day overall.
After Jeff Lowrie singled home Coco Crisp, Tepesch loaded the bases with two outs. But the right-hander ended his outing with panache, striking out Brandon Moss on a slider after a nine-pitch duel to end the inning.
``Just trying to win the battle, that's what you're trying to do as a pitcher and that's what he's trying to do as a hitter,' Tepesch said. ``I kinda attacked him and got out of it.'
Tepesch, a combined 11-6 with a 3.67 ERA last year at Class A and Double-A a year ago, is one of several pitchers competing for a rotation job until Colby Lewis returns, possibly in June, from surgery last summer to repair a torn flexor tendon.
Left-hander Martin Perez, who finished last season as the fifth starter, had been the presumptive leader until a line drive fractured his pitching arm last weekend. Left-hander Robbie Ross appears to be the current favorite.
``I just go about my business and work as hard as I can every day,' Tepesch said. ``Whatever happens happens. I control whatever I can control, that's the best way to put it.'
Oakland starter Dan Straily gave up two runs - one earned - three hits and a walk in three innings.
``I felt actually in control and wasn't rushing,' Straily said. ``It's the first time I've felt like myself in three outings. I brought the slider out with the first inning and really threw it with convention. So I was happy to see it still was sharp and working for me.'
Shane Peterson's two-run single gave Oakland a 3-2 lead in the seventh, but Brad Snyder homered off Ryan Cook in the bottom half and pinch-hitter Jorge Alfaro singled home Edwin Garcia with the go-ahead run.
Texas took a 2-0 lead in the second when Martin hit an RBI single that left fielder Yoenis Cespedes charged and overran for an error that also allowed A.J. Pierzynski to score.
NOTES: Straily threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen after his outing. ... A's closer Grant Balfour threw another bullpen session Saturday as he continues to recover from right knee surgery in February. Balfour, who saved 24 games last season, likely will pitch in a simulated game or batting practice before appearing in a spring training game. ... Oakland 2B Jemile Weeks, originally slated to return Sunday from a left shoulder bruise, won't be back in the lineup until at least Monday. ... Rangers RHP Matt Harrison was scratched from his start in Texas' other split-squad game Saturday with inflammation in a toe on his left foot. ... Before the game, the A's sent non-roster invitees RHP Bruce Billings, RHP Sonny Gray and LHP Justin Thomas to their minor league camp.
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