Adam Kennedy knew his long-ball opportunities would be limited against Texas Rangers' closer Frank Francisco. With a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s and an effective off-speed pitch, Francisco hadn't allowed a run all season.
Kennedy won the battle, breaking a 4-all tie with a one-out homer in the ninth for his third career multihomer game, and the visiting Oakland Athletics ended a four-game skid with a 5-4 victory over the AL West-leading Rangers yesterday.
Kennedy ripped a 1-0 fastball off Francisco (1-1) into the rightfield seats, ending a streak of 28 appearances without having yielded an earned run. Francisco had 17 2/3 scoreless innings in his first 17 games this season, the most in the majors without giving up a run.
"Off a closer, you're not going to get a whole lot of chances or a whole lot of good pitches to hit," Kennedy said. "When you get one, you want to put a good swing on it."
Kennedy has been one of the few offensive bright spots for the A's, last in the AL in batting average and homers. Kennedy went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .390.
Andrew Bailey (4-0) pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to earn the win.
In other games:
* At Cleveland, Jhonny Peralta drove in three runs, including the winning single with one out in the ninth inning to help the Indians defeat the New York Yankees, 5-4.
Before the game, the Indians placed All-Star outfielder Grady Sizemore on the 15-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation and called up utilityman Chris Gimenez from Triple A Columbus.
* At Toronto, Kevin Youkilis homered twice, Dustin Pedroia hit a three-run shot and Jon Lester struck out a career-high 12 as the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-2.
* At Kansas City, Chris Getz hit a tiebreaking two-run single off Juan Cruz in the ninth inning, and the Chicago White Sox rallied past the Royals, 7-4, for their first three-game sweep in Kansas City since 2005.
* At Baltimore, Edwin Jackson (5-3) allowed two hits over eight innings, Curtis Granderson homered, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Orioles, 3-0, to earn a split of the four-game series.
* At St. Petersburg, Fla., Brendan Harris homered and Justin Morneau and Carlos Gomez also drove in runs to help the Minnesota Twins avoid a weekend sweep with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
* At Anaheim, Calif., Kendry Morales capped a three-run ninth inning with a bases-loaded RBI single and the Los Angeles Angels overcame a seven-run deficit to beat the Seattle Mariners, 9-8, and avoid a three-game sweep.
* John Smoltz had his longest and strongest outing of the season, working five innings in a rehab start for the Greenville Drive. It was Smoltz's third minor-league rehab appearance in the past 11 days as he continues recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
The 42-year-old Smoltz signed with Boston in the offseason after 20 seasons with Atlanta. *