A's hold Wild Card ground with win in extras

A's hold Wild Card ground with win in extras
ARLINGTON -- Conscious of the fact they control their own destiny, the A's on Tuesday upped their chances of enjoying one that includes a postseason berth.

That much is theirs to lose at the moment, and they had been closer to doing so in recent days, dropping six of eight. But the A's had a different ending in mind for this one, as George Kottaras unlocked a tie in the 10th inning by launching a second-deck leadoff home run to right field against Rangers righty Mark Lowe to secure a much-needed 3-2 win.

"To do that, to help the team in that matter, was huge for me," said Kottaras, whose first big league homer was also off Lowe. "Went up there looking for a fastball and I got deep in the count and he threw one I could handle."

After watching the first-place Rangers' walk-off win on Monday, the A's prevented the same scene from unfolding and subsequently cut their deficit in the American League West to four games with eight to play, including five vs. Texas.

"This is a big series for us and for them as well," Daric Barton said. "These next two are huge. If we can cut it down to two or three, it would be tremendous."

At this point, a division crown remains in far reach, leaving the A's no choice but to keep hold of one of the two AL Wild Card spots. With a Baltimore loss, the A's moved within a half-game of the first Wild Card berth and they maintained their two-game lead on the Angels, who beat the Mariners in Anaheim.

That news is especially endearing to right fielder Brandon Moss, whose early defensive blunder could have cost the A's a win. Moss misplayed Josh Hamilton's base hit with runners at first and second in the first inning, leading to two unearned runs next to starter Tommy Milone's name.

Moss later made up for the error with perhaps his best defensive play of the year, a crucial running catch on the warning track to rob Elvis Andrus of an extra-base hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning of a 2-2 game.

"Holy cow," Moss said. "After that happened I was like, 'How did that just happen?' I was just praying it wouldn't cost us. I am so tired of costing us games. I hate making errors like that. I'm not going to forget it, but I was glad to make a good play to at least make myself feel better."

After the first, Milone retired 14 of the next 15 and kept the Rangers off the scoreboard through the rest of his six innings, while scattering six hits with no walks and three strikeouts. He settled for a no-decision, however, as the win went to Evan Scribner, thanks to a clean ninth inning, and Grant Balfour took home the save after a scoreless 10th.

It was Scribner's first win of his career and a memorable one for his team.

"He's been huge for us," Milone said. "He's been doing his job in big situations, and that's what we need right now. We've had to use our bullpen a lot and guys like him have stepped up, and it's a good thing to see."

"This is obviously a tough part of the schedule, where we're on the road against these teams that are all playing pretty well, and I feel like we're in every single one of them and we're either losing or winning by one run, which is a testament to us and to them," Moss added. "It's two really good teams playing against each other, but to be able to come out on top against them feels really good, because they're a really good ballclub. Our pitching staff, to hold these guys to two runs in their ballpark says enough. Those guys can hit."

The A's did most of their hitting in the early goings, as Barton's RBI double off Rangers righty Scott Feldman -- a last-minute replacement for an ailing Yu Darvish -- in the second led to the A's first run, with Chris Carter's homer in the fourth representing the second.

"The farther you go in the season each win has a little bit more magnitude to it, and especially against teams above you," manager Bob Melvin said. "This team responded like this many, many times this year, so this here, winning it like this, it doesn't surprise me."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.