It doesn’t matter to John Jaso whether he’s Oakland’s leadoff batter, as long as he’s playing. For the Athletics, he’s extremely important at the top of the order, especially with Coco Crisp hurting.
Jaso drove in three runs Sunday night, helping Scott Kazmir and Oakland beat the Texas Rangers 9-3. The A’s catcher had a run-scoring single during a five-run second inning and added a two-run double in the fifth.
“I like (leadoff) because I’m in the lineup,” Jaso said. “I don’t care where.”
Manager Bob Melvin said Crisp, who has led off in 69 of the Athletics’ 105 games, was going back to Oakland to be examined by the doctors who have been treating a recurring neck injury.
“When Coco’s out, we certainly need a guy against right-handers,” Melvin said. “(Jaso) takes a lot of pitches, and he can be aggressive.”
Jaso was leading off for the 15th time this season and has had at least one hit each game while batting .380 (19 for 50) in that role. He entered the game with an overall .360 on-base percentage.
The Athletics’ first three batters – Jaso, Stephen Vogt and Yoenis Cespedes – each had a double and a single, and Josh Reddick added three singles.
Kazmir (12-3) moved into a tie for the American League lead in wins while allowing seven hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out two.
“It was maybe not his best command at times,” Melvin said. “But seeing him be so good this season, that five-inning outing doesn’t look so good.”
Kazmir would not use the 100-degree temperature at game time as an excuse.
“It’s tough to have nice weather in Oakland and come here to pitch. It kind of drains you in the beginning. I felt great. I was just inconsistent.”
Kazmir got out of the third and fifth innings by striking out Texas’ J.P. Arencibia for the final out each time with a total of five runners on base.
“It was pretty much the same sequence,” Kazmir said. “Off-speed the first two pitches, and tried to finish him off hard. That was big those two innings.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said: “That’s J.P. I don’t think he can change. We gotta live with it.”
The victory enabled Oakland to remain two games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. The Athletics are 7-5 against the Rangers this season.
Adam Rosales had a two-run homer in the second for the Rangers, and Adrian Beltre added a solo shot off reliever Evan Scribner in the eighth. Beltre was 2 for 3 with a double and a walk.
Miles Mikolas (1-3) allowed seven earned runs on seven hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings.
He was coming off his first win as a major league starter, over the Yankees July 21.
“I executed well and made the transition well in the New York game, and kind of fell back into (bad habits),” Mikolas said. “It’s hard to break those bad habits, so we’ll do more work on it.”
Jaso also has an 11-game hitting streak against the Rangers.
“I don’t know what it is. I’ve hit some home runs here. The warm weather is nice, and they have a lot of righties.”
Jaso’s single was against Mikolas. Washington brought in left-hander Ryan Feierabend in to face Jaso in the fifth, and he ripped his two-run double with two out.
NOTES: Oakland activated INF Alberto Callaspo (strained right hamstring) from the disabled list and optioned 1B Nate Freiman to Triple-A Sacramento. . Rangers LHP Derek Holland is scheduled to pitch two innings in his first game this season Wednesday on an injury-rehab assignment for Double-A Frisco. Holland, on the 60-day disabled list following offseason surgery on his left knee, threw in the bullpen and took fielding practice before Sunday’s game. … Texas rookie RHP Roman Mendez pitched a perfect eighth inning. He has not allowed a run in 11 innings during his first eight major league games. … RHP Nick Tepesch, who left Saturday’s start in the seventh inning because of a sore left knee, said he plans to make his next scheduled start Friday in Cleveland.
Updated July 28, 2014