NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Texas Rangers booked their first trip to the playoffs in 11 years by clinching the American League West title with a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.
A home run over the fence in left-center by first baseman Jorge Cantu off reliever Michael Wuertz in the eighth inning snapped a 3-3 tie.
The victory improved the visiting Rangers’ record to 86-58 and gave them a nine-game lead over second-place Oakland (77-77) with eight games to play.
Texas became the second team to qualify for the postseason, joining the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins.
The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees are battling for the AL East title with the Boston Red Sox also still alive for the wildcard berth in the American League.
Cantu, acquired from the Florida Marlins at the July 31 trade deadline, made his first RBI for the Rangers a memorable one that sparked a celebration on the diamond for the first division title for Texas since 1999.
Reliever Darren O’Day earned the victory and Neftali Feliz got the final four outs for his 38th save, setting a Major League Baseball record for most saves by a rookie.
Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, who has been sidelined with broken ribs for three weeks, skipped the more exuberant group celebration in the center of the diamond and exchanged hugs with team mates along the third base line.
Texas, yet to win a playoff series dating back to their start as the Washington Senators expansion franchise in 1961, will make their fourth post-season appearance next month.
Writing by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue