A's rout Rangers to tighten AL West race

A's rout Rangers to tighten AL West race

A's rout Rangers to tighten AL West race
ARLINGTON -- Five months ago, the odds were better that A's hitters would set a strikeout record than there were they would help the club to the postseason.

Strangely, they may do both.

On the same night the A's recorded their 1,333rd strikeout, passing the 2007 A's for the most in the history of the American League, the surprising A's also busted out for nine runs, including five in the first, for a 9-3 victory over the Rangers that cut their deficit in the AL West race to three games.

Oakland has a chance to trim that number to two in Thursday's series finale, before the club heads home to take on the Mariners for three. And, in what could make for a thriller, the A's will then host the Rangers for three more to close out the season.

In the AL Wild Card standings, Oakland still holds the lead for the second spot, and its separation from Baltimore, which controls the top slot, is only a half-game. The Angels, who earned a walk-off victory against the Mariners on Wednesday, remain two back of the A's.

"These are the guys we're trying to catch," Josh Reddick said of the Rangers. "We're not trying to get the Wild Card, we're trying to stay in this division race, and playing seven out of the last 10 games against these guys it's definitely possible."

Reddick has done his part in leading the A's to this point, with 29 home runs and 79 RBIs to his name in a lineup he's captained for much of the season. Except those numbers were overshadowed by other ones entering Wednesday, as Reddick carried with him a career-long hitless streak spanning 28 at-bats.

Underperforming at a time when his team needs him most, Reddick took to the razor right before the game and showcased a clean-shaven look at first pitch. By night's end, he had collected two of Oakland's 16 hits, the first of which led to quite the celebration in the visitors' dugout.

His teammates, witnesses to the 0-for-30 slump, jokingly called for the ball -- and got it, inscribing "10 broken bats and three broken helmets" in bold letters.

"I heard the whole dugout blow up all the way down the line, like it was my first hit as a rookie," said Reddick, while showing off the ball. "It felt good."

Those good vibes perfectly reflected the ones filtering through the A's clubhouse following a much-needed second straight win, after Monday's disheartening loss.

This one featured four hits from Stephen Drew, who got things going in the first with a leadoff double. Following a lineout from Jonny Gomes, Oakland tallied four consecutive hits against Texas starter Martin Perez, who got one more out before an RBI triple by Derek Norris ended his night.

Hitting appeared to be contagious, though, as the Rangers responded with three runs over the first two innings against Jarrod Parker, who gave the A's a gritty six-inning performance, never again allowing a runner past second base following the second frame to pull off quite the recovery.

Parker tallied eight strikeouts in the effort, while the Rangers had to rely on six pitchers in that same span.

"Honestly, our bullpen has had a lot of work lately and early on I was struggling a little bit, and when I came in after the second, Curt [Young] said, 'Flush it,'" Parker said. "That was kind of the mentality I was able to take out there, and to be able to go six and save some guys in the bullpen was big.

"This is a big win for us. This is a team that's been able to flush what's happened away and we're able to turn the page quick. Obviously we've got a lot more work to do so we're not dwelling on this one, so we'll be right back out there tomorrow."

"They're a team that's playing with a lot more confidence," Texas' David Murphy said. "They believe in themselves as a playoff team and they're talented enough to be a playoff team. They're playing us extremely well and it's been a challenging series."

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.