OAKLAND -- The A's pushed the Rangers to the brink of elimination by completing a three-game sweep with a 8-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum. The Athletics have won seven straight and 14 of their last 17 games.
"We followed up what was a good series and good road trip for us with a good homestand, where we've been playing well," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We want to finish out strong. We continue to play good, pitch well, swing the bats, everything."
"Just 1-8 here during the season, for whatever reason, it was the voodoo palace and we couldn't get anything going," Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele said. "We still have a week to go. Our guys are going to battle as best they can and be ready to finish strong at home."
With the Twins winning again, the Rangers are 5 1/2 games back in the race for the second AL Wild Card spot. They are five games behind in the loss column with seven to play. Any combination of two Twins wins or two Rangers losses will eliminate them. The Rangers are only four games ahead of the last-place Athletics in the AL West standings. The two teams meet for more times later this week in Arlington.
"It's do or die," Rangers designated hitter Adrian Beltre said. "We can't afford to lose another game. Physically, there is a slim chance but Minnesota and the Angels have to lose a lot of games and we have to win a lot of games."
Athletics starter Jharel Cotton, despite being scratched from his last start with a strained groin muscle, threw five shutout innings, allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out six. He is 4-0 with a 4.83 ERA in his last six starts. He was removed as a precaution after the fifth inning with a tight elbow.
"I was excited to come out today for the team and myself, and we're on a seven-game winning streak, so it's pretty fun," Cotton said. "Guys are doing a good job hitting, fielding well. It's a fun clubhouse right now, and I love it."
The Rangers didn't score until a two-out home run by Nomar Mazara off reliever Simon Castro in the seventh. That snapped the Rangers' streak of 21 straight innings without a run going back to Shin-Soo Choo's home run in the third inning on Friday night.
Rangers starter Martin Perez opened the game with four scoreless innings before allowing five runs in the fifth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Davis torments Rangers:Khris Davis finished off the A's five-run fifth inning with a two-run home run, his 41st of the year. He has six home runs against the Rangers this year and 16 over the past two seasons, the most by any player against one club.
Cotton finishes with flourish: Cotton finished strong. He struck out Mazara to end the fourth inning and then proceeded to do the same with Joey Gallo, Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor in the fifth. He threw 10 straight changeups to end the fifth, striking out all three in the inning with the offspeed pitch.
"When you have a changeup with at least a 15 mph gap to it, he can make you look pretty silly with the changeup," Melvin said. More >>
"We've talked about as a group that there are several things we want to do better to finish up the season. Certainly, Houston was one. We needed to play better against Houston and we swept them. Second was we had to play better on the road, and we had a good road trip. And then we want to finish up here and play well within our division because we have not played well within our division this year. We would like to finish up these last few games within our division playing well." -- Melvin, on Oakland's September success
A's rookie first baseman Matt Olson left the game in the seventh with a tight hamstring, according to Melvin. Olson appeared to hurt his hamstring when stretching to catch a throw on an inning-ending double play in the sixth. He remained in the game for the top of the seventh, but the A's used Matt Joyce as a pinch-hitter for him in the bottom of the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Andrew Cashner opens a three-game series against the Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT Monday at Globe Life Park. Cashner is 1-4 with a 4.06 ERA in five starts against the Astros this season. He is 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA in his last 13 starts.
Athletics: Right-hander Daniel Gossett pitches against the Mariners at 7:05 p.m. PT on Monday. Gossett is 1-3 with a 5.74 ERA in six starts since being recalled from the Minor Leagues. He is 0-2 with a 6.75 in two starts against the Athletics.