ARLINGTON -- Josh Lindblom, despite being behind hitters, was effective for four innings in his first start for the Rangers. But his command issues caught up with him in the fifth and that inning proved his downfall.
Lindblom is temporarily on his way back to Triple-A Round Rock after allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings in a 9-2 loss to the Athletics on Monday night at the Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers optioned Lindblom after the game and will call up another pitcher on Tuesday.
It will likely be a reliever and left-hander Neal Cotts is the leading candidate. The Rangers, because they are off on Thursday, will not need a fifth starter until Monday, when they play a doubleheader against the D-backs. Lindblom could return on that day because Major League Baseball suspends the 10-day rule for optioned players because of the doubleheader.
The Rangers still have some question marks on their pitching staff after Lindblom couldn't get through the fifth inning on Monday night.
"When you're constantly behind in the count like I was the whole game, you have to make pitches," Lindblom said. "The first four innings I was able to, the last inning I wasn't able to execute. My ball was elevated and those guys are good hitters. When you elevate the ball, they are going to make you pay. The first four innings I was able to get the ball down. In the fifth inning, I wasn't able to execute pitches."
A's starter Bartolo Colon earned the victory by holding the Rangers to two runs over seven innings. The victory was the 19th of his career against Texas, tying Bert Blyleven, Dennis Leonard and Jack Morris for the most ever by a Rangers opponent.
"He just throws fastballs that we miss or he spots it," outfielder David Murphy said. "He has had our number. It was their game. He pitched well, their offense did well and we couldn't get much of anything going."
The Rangers had just six hits on the night and were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. They are winless in nine games in which they did not have at least one hit with runners in scoring position. Top prospect Jurickson Profar, making his season debut, drove in both runs for the Rangers with a grounder and a sacrifice fly.
Lindblom, who had made 101 Major League relief appearances for the Dodgers and Phillies over the past two years, allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three. He threw 88 pitches before exiting with two outs in the fifth. The Athletics tacked on five runs against relievers Joseph Ortiz, Cory Burns and Michael Kirkman.
"I thought for the first four [innings] he did a good job," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They got him for a home run, but he put up zeros. He pitched around some trouble early, but in that fifth he just started to get the ball up.
"He's got to get the ball down. That's it. He showed a good changeup tonight, good breaking ball and showed some life on the fastball. Just in the fifth inning, I don't know if he was a little tired, but he just started elevating the ball."
Lindblom, who was 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in eight outings for Round Rock, was called up on Monday to replace Alexi Ogando in the rotation. Ogando, who is on the disabled list with triceps tendinitis in his right arm, is expected back by the first week of June, so Lindblom likely has one or two more starts to make an impression on the Rangers.
"I saw the way the bullpen had been worked the past few days and I wanted to give those guys a break," Lindblom said. "I just wasn't able to do it. I'm not rushing to show something or do more than I'm capable of doing. I know I can start and pitch at this level. It's a matter of going out there and focusing the next time out. If you execute your pitches, no matter what level, you're going to get hitters out."
Lindblom allowed five hits and two walks through the first three innings but the only run scored against him was on a home run by Seth Smith to lead off the second inning. The Rangers tied it in the third as Geovany Soto led off with a walk, went to third on Leonys Martin's double and scored on Profar's grounder to second. Martin went to third on the play but Colon kept him there by getting Elvis Andrus to pop out and Murphy looking on a called third strike.
With the scored still tied, Coco Crisp led off the fifth with a double to left. He moved to third on Jed Lowrie's deep fly to center and scored on a double by Yoenis Cespedes. Brandon Moss followed with another double to give the Athletics a 3-1 lead.
Lindblom then struck out Josh Donaldson but that was the end of his night. Ortiz took over but allowed singles by Smith and Chris Young that -- along with Murphy's error -- brought home two more.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.