OAKLAND -- Rangers starter Matt Garza pitched his first complete game in his last 33 starts Saturday afternoon. It was also just the second complete game by a Rangers pitcher this season.
But Garza also gave up first-inning runs for the first time this season and his complete game came in a losing effort. The A's scored three runs in the first and held on for a 4-2 victory against the Rangers at O.co Coliseum.
"They had a big first inning," said Garza, who lost for the first time since June 11. "It's always tough to put your guys in a hole like that. I was able to keep the bullpen down, get deep in the game and give guys a rest, but I didn't do my job."
Jarrod Parker and three Oakland relievers did, holding the Rangers to two runs on seven hits. They also combined to retire 14 of the last 15 hitters they faced. The Rangers had some chances early, but went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"We didn't expect to win every game the rest of the year," outfielder David Murphy said. "We played well today and both pitchers threw well, but they did a good job of getting an early lead."
The loss snapped the Rangers' five-game winning streak, while the Athletics brought a three-game losing streak to an end -- their longest since a five-game skid in early May. The A's again have a 3 1/2 game lead in the American League West with the third and final game of the series scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
"Any time we're playing somebody within the division, we know we need to win those games, and obviously they're right behind us and we know we need to put together nine complete innings," Parker said after earning his first victory since beating the Rangers on June 18. "And if it takes more than that, it's going to take more than that. I think for us to come out and set the tone early and score some runs and just be upbeat, I think that's a big thing for us right now. "
The Rangers had a chance to take the lead in the first after Leonys Martin led off with a double. Elvis Andrus followed and struck out after fouling off a 1-1 bunt attempt to move the runner over. Parker then got Ian Kinsler on a one-hop smash to shortstop Eric Sogard and struck out Adrian Beltre to end the inning.
"We had some chances, but you can't cash them all in," manager Ron Washington said.
The Athletics did what the Rangers couldn't do in the first inning. They got the bunts down and the hit with runners in scoring position. They also got the long ball.
Coco Crisp led off with a perfectly placed bunt up the third-base line and beat it out for a hit. Sogard moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt.
"That showed me they're going to play small ball against me," Garza said. "The next time I'll be ready."
"It worked out, obviously," Sogard said. "I think it's kind of no secret Garza has some trouble throwing to first sometimes, so we wanted to try to take advantage of that. Coco laid down a perfect bunt, then I came up and put it where I wanted to, got the job done, and we ended up scoring three runs."
Jed Lowrie brought the first run home by slicing a shallow fly into left for a single. Yoenis Cespedes then crushed a 1-0 slider over the left-center field wall for a two-run home run.
"Garza threw it down, but that's his zone," Washington said. "If you throw it down there but don't get it into the dirt, that's what Cespedes can do. He's pretty strong."
The Rangers got one in the third after Parker walked Martin and Andrus with one out. He struck out Kinsler, but Beltre fisted a soft line drive down the right-field line for a run-scoring single. Kinsler made it 3-2 with his 10th home run of the season with one out in the fifth, but the Rangers managed just one single the rest of the afternoon.
The A's scratched out one more run off of Garza in the seventh. Garza started the inning by walking Alberto Callaspo, his only walk on the afternoon. Stephen Vogt bunted him to second, and Crisp lined a single to right, putting runners on the corners. That brought up Sogard, who dropped another bunt down the first-base line. Garza fielded it and had no chance at Callaspo at home plate. The sacrifice bunt made it 4-2.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.