ARLINGTON, Texas — Bartolo Colon celebrated his 40th birthday a few days early with something he’s enjoyed quite a few times over the years: a win over the Texas Rangers.
Seth Smith homered and scored three times, Colon pitched seven strong innings for his first victory in nearly a month and the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers, 9-2, on Monday.
Colon, who turns 40 on Friday, gave up two runs on six hits and struck out three. It was the first win for Colon (4-2) since April 23 at Boston, and he joined Bert Blyleven, Dennis Leonard and Jack Morris as the pitchers with the most wins over the Rangers at 19.
“I like to pitch here,” Colon, who has 175 wins in 16 seasons, said through a translator. “I don’t know why.”
Coco Crisp got three hits, and had the first of three straight Oakland doubles in a four-run fifth inning that broke a 1-1 tie. He scored when Yoenis Cespedes hit a line drive just over Adrian Beltre’s head with the third baseman playing in, and Cespedes came home on Brandon Moss’ line drive to the wall in right.
Josh Lindblom (0-1) lost in his 2013 debut and first major league start.
Lindblom was replaced by left-hander Joseph Ortiz after striking out Josh Donaldson in the fourth. Smith hit an RBI single and went to second when left fielder David Murphy dropped the ball trying to make a throw home. The error allowed Smith to score on a single by Chris Young for a 5-1 Oakland lead.
“The first four innings I was able to make pitches and work myself out of jams,” Lindblom said. “That fifth inning, I couldn’t make the pitch.”
Smith’s opposite-field homer to left for a 1-0 lead in the second was the 13th straight solo homer for the A’s, tying a franchise record set in 2007. Jed Lowrie had three hits, including one of five doubles for Oakland.
The two outs Smith made were with the bases loaded as the A’s stranded a season-high 15. Texas pitchers walked a season-high eight, although two were intentional.
Even Colon had problems with walks — by his standards. He matched his season total by walking Geovany Soto twice.
“Those don’t happen too often,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin.
Colon was helped by three double plays in the first four innings, including a pair started by Moss at first base when he snagged hard grounders from Lance Berkman and Moreland, stepped on the bag and got the runners trying to go to second. He came out after throwing 95 pitches.
“I mean, he’s 40 and we’d like to try to get him through a season,” Melvin said. “So anything over 100 for me is starting to get a little uncomfortable. To give us seven, just short of 100, is terrific.”