- Associated Press - Monday, July 28, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - 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.

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