ARLINGTON, Texas — Ross Wolf was thinking about retirement while languishing in the minor leagues for a third straight year.
The Texas Rangers right-hander will probably reconsider now.
Wolf pitched five strong innings for his first big league win in his first start in the majors, David Murphy and Adrian Beltre homered in a three-run first inning, and the Rangers avoided a sweep with a 3-1 victory against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old Wolf came up from Triple-A Round Rock for a spot start after the Rangers scratched rookie Nick Tepesch because of a blister.
He beamed in front of the cameras afterward and said "awesome" a lot after escaping trouble in the fourth and fifth and getting a big boost from Neal Cotts when he was replaced in the sixth.
A year ago, Wolf (1-0) had a pregnant wife on bed rest and a boy who missed him at home while be bounced between Double-A Frisco and Round Rock in the Texas farm system.
He spent 2011 in the Houston organization after refusing a minor league assignment with Oakland at the end of the 2010 season.
"It tests your patience," said Wolf, who was making his first big league appearance since Oct. 1, 2010, as a reliever for the A's. "My wife gets a lot of the credit. She told me to stick with it, and thank God I did."
Cotts, pitching a day after getting three outs on six pitches in his game in the majors since May 25, 2009, struck out the side when he came on for Wolf with two runners on and no outs in the sixth.
The left-hander whose best season came with the Chicago White Sox when they won the World Series in 2005 escaped trouble again in the seventh, getting Adam Rosales on a lineout and Coco Crisp on a foul pop with a runner at third.
"He may have been here in Texas a short time, but he hasn't been at the major league level being successful for a short time," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's throwing the ball the way I remember him throwing with Chicago."
Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save in 14 chances.
Elvis Andrus snapped an 0-for-10 slump with a leadoff single in the first, and Murphy followed with a homer about 10 rows into the lower porch in right field. Two batters later, Beltre hit his 10th of the season halfway up the lawn in center.
Jarrod Parker (2-6) was down 3-0 just four batters into the game, but went seven innings for Oakland. The right-hander retired 11 of the next 12 Rangers after Beltre's homer and allowed six hits with five strikeouts and one walk in seven innings.
"He threw a couple of early-count heaters that they squared up," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "In the past, early in the season, that game gets away from him. It looks like he's more comfortable now."
Wolf, who had 25 career relief appearances, retired the first nine hitters and gave up one run with three strikeouts and two walks in five-plus innings.
It was the second time in three days a Texas pitcher has made his first major league start after previous stints as a reliever with other teams. Josh Lindblom lost to Oakland on Monday.
"For him to come up and pitch against his old team and get his first big league win, it's cool to stay you were a part of it," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
The A's scored their only run on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Moss with runners at second and third and one in the fourth against Wolf, who was 1-2 with a 2.02 ERA in Round Rock, including a 1.85 ERA in six starts.
Oakland, which had a five-game winning streak snapped, put runners at second and third with no outs in the fifth when Andrus made a sliding catch over his shoulder on a blooper into left from Eric Sogard. Wolf then got Rosales on an infield popup and Crisp on a grounder.
"I think it meant everything to anyone that's in the game of baseball that have a dream," Washington said. "I think he did a great job of going through a hot team."
Notes: Rangers RHP Cory Burns was optioned to Round Rock to make room for Wolf. ... Tepesch is scheduled to start Sunday at Seattle, and Yu Darvish will pitch the first game of a day-night doubleheader in Arizona on Monday. The second starter is undecided. ... A's SS Jed Lowrie didn't start after getting hit by a pitch on his right foot Tuesday night. ... Oakland OF Josh Reddick (sprained right wrist) was eligible to come off the DL Wednesday and will join the team Friday in Houston for limited batting practice.