OAKLAND -- Athletics rookie right-hander Jharel Cotton continued the terrific start to his Major League career and the Rangers were the latest team to be impressed.
Cotton sent the Rangers back into a tie with the Red Sox for the best record in the American League by pitching the Athletics to a 7-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum. Cotton, making his fourth Major League start, allowed just one run on three hits over a career-high seven innings on just 70 pitches. Cotton is now 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his four starts.
"Seems like they're all the same to me," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You know they're trying to be aggressive and get on his fastball before he can get to his offspeed stuff, and he just continues to impress all the way around with his composure, the mix of pitches, not afraid of the stage and who he's facing. We have a good one here."
"Sunday day game, they wanted to get away, so they were swinging at every pitch, and I was on the mound like, 'Thank you, keep swinging,'" Cotton said, smiling. "That was good for me."
The only run came on Adrian Beltre's 32nd home run in the seventh. Beltre had two hits on the afternoon, giving him 2,937 for his career and passing Barry Bonds for sole possession of 35th all-time.
The Rangers and the Red Sox -- who won their 11th straight by beating the Rays on Sunday -- are now 92-64 going into the final week of the season. The Indians are right behind at 90-65 after their loss to the White Sox on Sunday.
Head-to-head matchup would be the first tiebreaker, but the Rangers and the Red Sox split six games during the regular season. The second tiebreaker is record within the division and right now that edge goes to the Rangers. They also won five of seven against the Indians.
"It's crucial," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "You see our record (50-25) at home, we play well at home. We need to go home and play clean baseball and keep our energy level up. We were able to rest some guys and get them off their feet so we should be fresh."
Rangers starter Colby Lewis lasted just 1 1/3 innings as the Athletics scored seven runs off him in the second inning. It is the third time Lewis has been knocked out of a game after 1 1/3 innings pitched, with the last time coming on June 11, 2011.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Offensive outburst: The A's did their best to make up for lost time, busting out for seven runs in the second inning to halt their scoreless-inning streak at 20, dating back to Wednesday. Contributions came from up and down the lineup, with seven players reaching base in the inning -- highlighted by Stephen Vogt's bases-clearing double and Ryon Healy's two-run home run.
Tough luck for Lewis: Lewis had a couple of bad breaks in the second inning after a leadoff single by Yonder Alonso. Marcus Semien followed with a high shallow popup down the right-field line and right fielder Jared Hoying just missed making a diving catch. The next batter, Bruce Maxwell, followed with a weak pop into shallow left that landed just beyond the reach of shortstop Hanser Alberto for a single. The inning went downhill from there.
"We can't cover everything," Banister said. "They just happened to hit them where we weren't. I think there were only two hard-hit balls that inning." More >
Olson collects first big league hit:Matt Olson was hitless in his first seven big league at-bats when he stepped to the plate in the third inning and sent a single through the right side for his first Major League hit. The rookie also drew a walk and scored in the A's seven-run second inning while making his first career start in right field, where he made a fantastic catch at the wall to end the top half of the eighth frame.
"It's always nice to get your first hit," Melvin said. "The more that goes on, the more you can press a little bit. The first ball that was hit to him, looked like he was smoking a cigarette the way he catches it, no problem, which makes me feel better, because I've never seen him play the outfield. Then the last one, I don't know we have anyone that's as tall as he is to jump up there and get it."
Holland gets work:Derek Holland is trying to earn a postseason job in the Rangers bullpen and pitched a scoreless fifth inning. It was Holland's first relief appearance this season and fourth in the last six years. Banister said Holland will be in the bullpen the last week of the season to see if he can handle that role in postseason.
"It went good," Holland said. "I threw strikes and executed the way I needed to. I need to keep it going."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cotton is the first A's pitcher since ERA became a stat in 1913 to open a career with four consecutive outings of at least five innings pitched and no more than one earned run allowed.
• The Rangers unsuccessfully challenged a call at home plate in the second inning, when Vogt cleared the bases with a double and sent home Maxwell, Olson and, finally, Joey Wendle, who slid under the tag of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Replay determined the safe call would stand.
• Earlier in the inning, the A's challenged the out call on Brett Eibner at first base, but it was confirmed for the first out.
• A crew-chief review was used in the seventh inning when Alonso slid in safely with a double. The call was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches against the Brewers at 7:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Globe Life Park. Perez is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in his last four starts and 8-2 with a 2.65 ERA at home..
Athletics: The A's head to Anaheim for a three-game series against the Angels, with left-hander Sean Manaea scheduled to start Monday's 7:05 p.m. PT series opener at Angel Stadium. The rookie Manaea has not allowed a run in his last two starts, spanning 11 innings.