ARLINGTON -- The Athletics, trying to avoid a second straight last-place finish, are making it tough on the first-place Rangers in the final month of the season.
Khris Davis, who has been pummeling the Rangers all season, hit two home runs and the Athletics won for the second straight game with a 5-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park. The Athletics have won six of their last seven and they are 8-8 against the Rangers with three games left next weekend in Oakland.
"We had a great trip," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Beat Kansas City four in a row, lose just a really, really tough game here and then respond with wins in the next two games. I can't say enough about the desire and the commitment these guys still have to finish out the season strong. You want to play for your team, you want to play for your job next year. All these things combined, we have a lot of hungry guys that are playing well."
The Rangers finished Sunday with an 8 1/2-game lead over the Mariners in the American League West with 12 games to play. The Rangers' magic number is five as they go into a three-game series with the Angels beginning Monday in Arlington.
"We've been focused since day one," Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "It doesn't matter when we clinch. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. I think our mentality is still the same. We come out here trying to win ballgames and prepare our best to win those games."
Left-hander Ross Detwiler earned his second victory for the Athletics by holding his former team to two runs on five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He left with a 3-2 lead with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Colby Lewis took the loss for the Rangers in his second start since coming off the disabled list by allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed just three hits, but walked five, including three in the Athletics' two-run sixth inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Eibner, Smolinski save the day: Brett Eibner took away extra bases -- and likely two RBIs -- from Beltre with a diving, over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track in center field to end the fifth, with the A's trailing by one. Ian Desmond and Carlos Gomez were stationed at first and second, respectively, when Eibner made the inning-ending play. Left fielder Jake Smolinski then made a leaping catch to take extra bases away from Elvis Andrus with one out in the eighth. Andrus' liner left his bat at 104 mph and traveled a projected 343 feet, per Statcast™. Similar batted balls have been hits 70 percent of the time this year.
"Eibner's catch might be the play of the game, because if that gets by, now we're in a completely different game," Melvin said. "We're behind, I don't have my bullpen guys that I'm probably wanting to use at that point. The whole game changes on that catch. When the ball was hit, I didn't think he had a chance at it." More >
Davis strikes Rangers, again: Davis continued to feast on Rangers pitching with his two home runs -- a solo homer in the fourth and a two-run shot in the eighth. Davis has hit 10 homers against the Rangers this year, most by an opponent in a single season against them. The previous record-holder was Reggie Jackson, who hit nine against the Rangers in 1974. Davis' second homer also gave him 40 home runs on the year, making him the first A's hitter to hit 40-plus home runs in a season since Jason Giambi in 2000.
"I feel comfortable against their guys," Davis said. "The numbers don't lie." More >
DeShields keys rally:Delino DeShields, starting in the leadoff spot, was instrumental in the Rangers' two-run rally in the third. Robinson Chirinos reached on a one-out double and DeShields followed with a run-scoring single. Gomez then lined a single to left and DeShields raced to third on the play. He scored on Desmond's infield single.
"This has been awesome to be around these guys and pick their brains and see how they go about their business," said DeShields, who spent over two months with Triple-A Round Rock after making the Opening Day roster. "I'm just taking something from it and learning and trying to be the best I can be."
Check Mazara: The Rangers, trailing 3-2, loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. With right-handed hitting DeShields up against right-handed reliever Liam Hendriks, Rangers manager Jeff Banister wanted a left-handed hitter so he went with Nomar Mazara over Carlos Beltran. Hendriks struck out Mazara when he chased a 1-2 slider low and couldn't check his swing in time.
"If we use Beltran, it's a two-player move," Banister said, referring to the need for a defensive player in the seventh inning. "Mazara has come up big in those situations, he has had some good at-bats as a pinch-hitter. We felt good using Mazara. He goes out and plays defense and we save Beltran for later."
WHAT'S NEXT Athletics: The A's will head back to the Bay for their final homestand of the season, beginning play against the Astros on Monday. Right-hander Jharel Cotton will start the 7:05 p.m. series opener at the Coliseum and look to build on his first two big league outings, allowing just one earned run in each of them.
Rangers:Martin Perez (10-10, 4.20 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game series against the Angels at 7:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Globe Life Park. Perez is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA over a string of three straight quality starts. .