EditorsNote: Last note fix: A’s 1B Matt Olson left the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with a tight hamstring
Athletics beat Rangers, win seventh straight
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Texas Rangers arrived at the Oakland Coliseum on Friday in the thick of the American League wild-card race, just 2 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second spot.
Three straight Rangers losses to the Oakland Athletics and three straight Twins victories against Detroit have Texas on the brink of elimination.
Khris Davis hit his 41st home run of the season, Jharel Cotton allowed one hit over five shutout innings, and the A’s defeated the Rangers 8-1 on Sunday afternoon to complete a three-game series sweep and beat the Rangers at the Coliseum for a franchise-record-matching eighth straight time.
The Rangers fell 5 1/2 games behind the Twins, 10-4 winners against Detroit, for the second wild-card spot in the AL. The Rangers’ wild-card elimination number is two.
“For whatever reason this year it was the Voodoo Palace for us,” Rangers acting manager Steve Buechele said of the Coliseum. “We just couldn’t get anything going.”
The A’s won their season-high seventh straight game overall, including the final four on the road before playing Texas at home. They completed their second consecutive three-game sweep of Texas in Oakland and finished 8-1 against the Rangers at home this season.
“I don’t know if it’s the water or what it is,” Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “I can’t explain it. Those guys played us very well. They have a really good young team, but we expect to be better, we expect to be better than what we showed here, the whole team.
“We’re still trying. It’s not set in stone yet. We’re going to come back home and do the best we can to win the most games we can at home and see what happens.”
Matt Chapman doubled twice and drove in two runs for the A’s. Josh Phegley went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and one RBI.
“We want to finish out strong,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We continue to play good, pitch well, swing the bats. Everything.”
Nomar Mazara hit his 20th home run of the season, a solo shot with one out in the seventh inning, ending the Rangers’ season-long 21-inning scoreless streak. The run was their first since scoring once in the third inning Friday in a 4-1 loss to Oakland.
Cotton (9-10) extended his career-high winning streak to four games and beat Texas for the second time during that stretch. Cotton struck out five, walked one and left after throwing 77 pitches because of minor tightness in his right elbow. He was scratched from his previous scheduled start Sept. 18 at Detroit after straining his groin while warming up before the game.
The only hit Cotton allowed came with two outs in the first inning when Elvis Andrus grounded a single to center.
“When he’s ahead in the count, he can be a tough guy to deal with,” Melvin said. “He’s had some of the most impressive games we’ve seen here the past couple of years. He definitely has the ability. He just needs to string it together.”
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez (12-12) allowed five runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings with two strikeouts and a season-high-matching four walks. After winning seven straight games, Perez has gone 0-2 in his past three starts.
“I think control was a little bit off,” Buechele said. “Four walks. He got some ground balls that snuck their way through, but I think overall today was just one those where he was just a little bit out of rhythm and didn’t have the command and crispness he’s had in his last few starts.”
The A’s snapped a scoreless tie in the fifth inning with five runs on five hits, including Davis’ two-run shot.
Phegley led off with a single to center and moved to second on Jake Smolinski’s single to left.
Chapman laced a double to left-center, bringing Phegley home to give Oakland a 1-0 lead. Jed Lowrie followed with a two-run single down the right-field line, making it 3-0.
That brought Davis to the plate, and he crushed Perez’s 1-1 changeup high and deep over the center-field fence.
The A’s extended their lead to 7-0 in the sixth. Mark Canha lined a leadoff single to left and continued to second on an error by Mazara. Phegley lined an RBI double down the left-field line, and Chapman launched a run scoring double off the left-field fence with two outs.
“We’ve got a young core,” Phegley said. “It’s just loose. We’re just playing to have fun.”
NOTES: Rangers manager Jeff Banister missed his second straight game and remained in Clear Lake, Texas, with his mother, Verda, who is experiencing complications from recent surgery. Bench coach Steve Buechele served again as acting manager. “When he feels it’s time to come back, he’ll come back,” Buechele said before the game. ... A’s C Bruce Maxwell, who on Saturday became the first major league player to kneel for the national anthem, kneeled again Sunday during the anthem, continuing his protest against racial injustice. “I’ve gotten everything from support to threats,” Maxwell said. “I expected it. It’s nothing different that I haven’t dealt with in my life. The threats that I’m getting are part of the problem. Threats, racial slurs. I’ve had some people wish I got hurt.” ... A’s OF/INF Chad Pinder is in the concussion protocol and might miss the rest of the season, manager Bob Melvin said. Pinder was injured Friday night against Texas when he slammed into the right-center field wall trying to catch a fly ball. ... A’s 1B Matt Olson left the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with a tight hamstring, Melvin said.