Rangers stretch lead with sweep of A's

Rangers stretch lead with sweep of A's

OAKLAND -- The Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Athletics with an 8-1 victory on Thursday afternoon at the Coliseum, giving them a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League West going into their showdown series with the second-place Astros.

The Rangers, having won nine of their last 11, are four games up in the loss column as they get ready for a three-game set in Houston beginning Friday night. The Rangers' magic number for the division title is 7.

Rangers starter Cole Hamels allowed just an unearned run over six innings and is 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in his last eight starts. The Rangers have won all eight of those games.

"It's huge to go on the road and win the series, but anytime you win all three it's really huge, especially how pivotal it is at this point of the season," Hamels said. "Everybody knows what's at stake, so we have to continue to bear down."

Rangers on solid ground for Houston showdown

Athletics starter Chris Bassitt allowed three runs in three innings in the loss, which secured the A's a last-place finish in the division.

Hamels' six strong frames

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Beltre continues RBI rampage: Adrian Beltre was 2-for-4 with three more RBIs. That gives him 25 RBIs for September, the most in the Majors, and 40 in his last 38 games. He has 1,454 RBIs in his career, passing Hall of Fame third baseman Eddie Mathews for 59th place all-time.

"There is no doubt what he is doing," manager Jeff Banister said. "He has stepped up and performed at a high level, our leader on the field and in the clubhouse. It's nice to see because guys look to him to carry that load."

Beltre's two-run single

Doubled off: The A's had a handful of chances against Hamels but managed to waste most of them, grounding into a double play four times through the first five innings. They left six on base and went hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"Hamels has that cutter that can induce some ground balls, he can paint you away, he's got a good changeup to get you off the end of the bat," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It felt like we had him on the ropes. It didn't look like he had his great stuff today, but anytime he needed to make a pitch and get out of a jam, he made a good pitch, kept it on the ground and got a double play." More >

Hamels escapes jam with DP

DeShields covers for error: Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields let in the Athletics' only run in the second when dropped a potential inning-ending fly ball. He made up for it with his offense, going 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs.

"That play in center, I had it and then I didn't have it," DeShields said. "Weird stuff, the first time it has happened to me this season. Cole did a good job of not letting it snowball."

Reddick scores on error

Bassitt returns: Restricted to a pitch count after missing several weeks with shoulder soreness, Bassitt made it through just three innings while throwing 73 pitches, but his mere presence was an encouraging sign for the A's, who wanted to see the right-hander back on the mound and pitching healthy before season's end.

"Physically I felt really, really good, I would just say I was rusty and maybe I was a little bit up," Bassitt said. "So instead of getting easy outs, I was getting foul balls, and instead of jamming them and getting easy ground balls I was getting weak fly balls that turned into hits. But for not throwing for a month, I'm happy with it."

Choo's RBI double

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
A's designated hitter Billy Butler recorded his 1,400th career hit with a seventh-inning double.

Butler's 1,400th career hit

WHAT'S NEXT
Rangers: Yovani Gallardo will be on the mound when Texas opens a three-game series against the Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT Friday at Minute Maid Park. The Rangers are 12-4 against the Astros this season, having won seven in a row. The Rangers are 4-2 in Houston.

Athletics: Sonny Gray gets the start in Friday's three-game series opener against the Bay Bridge rival Giants at the Coliseum, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. PT. Gray has struggled in September, posting a 7.97 ERA in four starts.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.