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Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski (12) and second baseman Ian Kinsler, center, visit starting pitcher Justin Grimm (51) on the mound in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When the A's were busy winning 22 of 29 heading into this series in Texas, one of the staples of their arsenal was their pitchers' ability to come up with shutdown innings.

When the A's would score to tie the game or take the lead, Oakland's pitchers would be quick to send the other club back into the dugout scoreless the next time up.

In the current series in Rangers Ballpark, including and especially Wednesday night's 9-4 loss to Texas, that's not happening.

Chris Young got Oakland going with a three-run home run in the fifth inning. The A's, who had been snoozing against Rangers starter Justin Grimm, came to immediate life.

"It seemed to me the momentum shifted when we took the lead like that," starter Tommy Milone said. "But they did a good job of getting on bases and making things happen."

Instead of getting that shutdown inning, Milone saw the Rangers' fifth inning turn into yet another momentum shift. Two quick hits set up a game-tying sacrifice fly by Ian Kinsler.

Then with runners on the corners, Nelson Cruz slapped a grounder to third baseman Josh Donaldson.

"My first inclination was to go for the double play, but I saw I couldn't, based on how hard the ball was hit," Donaldson said. Elvis Andrus, the runner on first, had lit out for second with Milone's move to the plate, so the double play may have been off the books, no matter what. "So I threw to the plate."

Leonys Martin slid to the outside, and Donaldson's throw was far to the inside. Catcher Derek Norris tried to make a sweeping tag and failed.

"If I make the throw I normally make, we get the out," Donaldson said. "Instead, I threw a cutter."

That play left the Rangers back in the lead at 4-3, and Texas would knock Milone from the game an inning later with a four-run rally.

The Rangers are now two games behind the A's in the A.L. West heading into the series finale Thursday afternoon.

"We expect (the shutdown inning), no matter what," manager Bob Melvin said. "We'd just had a big momentum shift with the homer. But Tommy didn't have his best stuff, and it didn't happen tonight."

This is the second time in three games in Texas where the A's couldn't get that shutdown inning. In the series opener Monday, Oakland rallied from a 3-0 deficit with a six-run fourth, but A's starter Dan Straily gave up one run in the fourth, and two of the three runs scored in the fifth as the Rangers rallied for what would be an 8-7 win.

Two games don't mean much in the space of a 162-game season, but this could signal a slowdown in the A's pitching juggernaut. Oakland starters had gone 22 games without allowing more than four runs, but in the last three games the A's starters have given up six runs twice.

Milone wasn't going to make more of it than just Wednesday's game, however.

"I felt like I didn't have it tonight, pretty much across the board," he said. "That's the game. It's frustrating. But you've got to forget about this one and move on."

  • Norris had to leave the game after being hit in the groin by a foul ball in the sixth inning. He takes pride in playing with pain, "but if I can't perform and help the team, I'm going to come out of the ballgame."

    The A's aren't sure they could get a replacement catcher up from the minor leagues, so it's likely with Norris almost certainly needing a day off Thursday, Donaldson, a converted catcher, would be the emergency backup. "I'm ready," Donaldson said.

  • In his two starts as the A's leadoff hitter, Young is 5 for 7. He singled in the third inning and homered in the fifth. In his first start he'd been 3 for 3. "It doesn't matter," Young said when asked about batting leadoff. "I just like playing."

  • Eric Sogard singled and walked twice before flying out. The second baseman has hit safely in 20 of his last 27 starts.

  • Yoenis Cespedes has not started in left field for six straight games thanks to a testy hamstring. Melvin said he doubted Cespedes, who doubled and scored Oakland's final run, would play left field Thursday.

  • Center fielder Coco Crisp got Wednesday's game off, as scheduled.

    Thursday's game

    A's (A.J. Griffin 5-6) at Texas (Josh Lindblom 0-2), 11:05 a.m. CSNCA