ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jerome Williams pitched six solid innings while becoming the team-record 31st pitcher used this season by the Texas Rangers, and they beat AL West-leading Oakland 4-1 on Friday night.
Elvis Andrus had a triple among his two hits and scored twice for the Rangers, who had lost their seven previous home games in July and were coming off a 2-5 road trip out of the All-Star break.
Neftali Feliz, back in the closer role after Joakim Soria was traded to Detroit earlier this week, worked a scoreless ninth while giving up a hit and a walk for his first regular-season save since 2011. His last opportunity, before moving to the rotation and then getting hurt, was a blown save in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series against St. Louis.
The Athletics still have the best record in the majors at 63-39, and they have a 22 1/2-game division lead over last-place Texas, which has won only six of its last 33 games.
Williams (2-4) allowed one run while striking out four without a walk. The 32-year-old right-hander was released by Houston earlier this month and signed to a minor league deal with the Rangers two weeks ago.
Texas purchased Williams’ contract from Triple-A Round Rock as planned Friday to start in place of Nick Tepesch, who pitched in relief in the Rangers’ 14-inning loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. Tepesch is scheduled to start Saturday night.
The Rangers have used a majors-high 52 players, three short of the club record. But 31 pitchers broke the previous mark, and they still have reliever Nate Adcock waiting for his season debut after coming up from Round Rock on Thursday.
Texas led for good on J.P. Arencibia’s RBI single after Jim Adduci had a leadoff double in the second off Jason Hammel (0-3). Andrus had a two-out triple in the third and scored on a single by Alex Rios.
Hammel came to Oakland from the Chicago Cubs with Jeff Samardzjia in the July 5 trade. Hammel allowed four runs (three earned) in 5 2-3 innings.
Yoenis Cespedes was back in Oakland’s lineup after missing Thursday with a sprained right thumb. He had an RBI single in the sixth, but had some adventures in only his second start in center field this season.
Adduci’s double was hit to straightaway center over Cespedes. Andrus tripled on a ball that twice got past Cespedes, when he couldn’t cut it off in the right-center gap and when it ricocheted off the wall.
Cespedes had an error in the sixth on a wide throw home after Adrian Beltre’s RBI single. Rios and Beltre got an extra base, and Adduci followed with a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Oakland manager Bob Melvin successfully challenged to have two safe calls at first base overturned on replay. Arencibia was initially ruled safe on a pickoff throw by Hammel in the fourth. Andrus was called safe on what would have been an infield single, but wound up the inning-ending out in the seventh. ... Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and longtime broadcaster Eric Nadel have hall passes to miss this weekend’s series. Nadel, in his 20th season as the lead voice on Rangers radio broadcasts, will receive the 38th Ford C. Frick Award at the annual Hall of Fame awards ceremony Saturday in Cooperstown. Maddux is there for the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction Sunday of his brother Greg, a special assistant for the Rangers. ... OF Jake Smolinski (bone bruise left foot) was put on the 15-day DL to make room for Williams on the 25-man roster. LHP Justin Marks was released to clear a 40-man spot.