OAKLAND, Calif. -- Just when it looked like the Oakland Athletics had turned things around with consecutive wins in Seattle, they put together one of their sloppiest performances of the year.
Scott Kazmir allowed a two-run homer to Jake Smolinski, and shortstop Jed Lowrie made an error that led to a pair of unearned runs as the A's lost 6-3 to the last-place Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
"I feel like that was a game that just doesn't happen in September in a race to make the playoffs," Kazmir said. "You just don't play like that. ... To be honest, I've never seen anything like that before at a major league level."
Oakland made two errors, threw two wild pitches and got another rough outing from Kazmir (14-9) to lose for the 15th time in 22 games. The A's remained one game ahead of Kansas City for the top wild-card spot. The Mariners are a game behind the Royals for the second berth.
"We just didn't look like we were ready to play tonight for whatever reason defensively," manager Bob Melvin said. "We got beat all the way around, unfortunately. I thought we'd come ready to play."
Nick Tepesch (5-10) allowed three runs in six innings to beat the A's for the first time in six career appearances. The Rangers have won four straight for the first time since April.
Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances.
Smolinski provided the big offensive blow when he hit his first career home run in his first game against live pitching since breaking a bone in his left foot while fouling off a pitch on July 21.
"That's one I won't forget," Smolinski said. "It was kind of cool. It was nice to get that first hit back out of the way."
The Rangers added another run in the fourth when Rougned Odor reached on a grounder to Lowrie and scored from first on Daniel Robertson's single to right. Josh Reddick threw Robertson out at second, but Odor never stopped running on the play and scored.
After the A's scored twice in the bottom half, the Rangers broke it open with three runs in the fifth after Lowrie's miscue. Lowrie threw high to first on Ryan Rua's grounder for a two-base error that allowed Adrian Beltre to score. Robinson Chirinos and Odor added RBI singles to make it 6-2.
Kazmir allowed six runs -- four earned -- in 4 1/3 innings and is 0-4 with an 8.22 ERA over his past five starts.
Rangers: OF Michael Choice will be sidelined six to eight weeks with a strained left hamstring, and GM Jon Daniels said it was unlikely Choice will play winter ball as originally planned. ... OF Shin-Soo Choo, already out for the season with an elbow injury, will have surgery on his left ankle that shouldn't impact his availability for next season.
Athletics: C Stephen Vogt (sprained left ankle) hit before the game and could be available as a pinch-hitter Tuesday.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland (1-0) will make his fourth start of the season. The Rangers said he is the first pitcher since at least 1900 to pitch at least seven innings, allow one or fewer runs and no walks in his first three starts of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Athletics: RHP Jeff Samardzija (6-12) will face the Rangers for the first time in his career.
After going 39 straight games without a homer, Brandon Moss connected for the second straight game for Oakland in one of the few bright spots of the day.
"I've been feeling a lot better lately," Moss said. "It's just a matter of swinging at good pitches and not missing good pitches."
STAT OF THE DAY
Kazmir retired all three batters he faced with a runner in scoring position and two outs. For the season, Kazmir has allowed just four hits in 56 at-bats (.071 batting average) in those situations. That would beat Jack Morris' .082 batting average against in 1987 as the best mark in the majors since at least 1974.