Rangers win 9-7 over A’s for split, 4-game lead
ARLINGTON (AP) — Ian Kinsler got Texas started with a leadoff homer, Matt Harrison earned his 18th victory and the AL West-leading Rangers held on to win 9-7 Thursday for a four-game split with the chasing Oakland Athletics.
The two-time defending American League champion Rangers (92-64) have a four-game division lead over the A’s with six to play, including three games in Oakland next week.
Kinsler’s 19th homer, his majors-best seventh leadoff shot this season, started a five-run first for the Rangers against Travis Blackley (5-4). The Rangers had four consecutive two-out hits, capped by Mike Napoli’s two-run homer.
Harrison (18-10) went six innings, allowing four runs and seven hits, to become the Rangers’ first 18-game winner since Kenny Rogers in 2004.
The All-Star left-hander is scheduled to start once more in the regular season, with a chance for the most wins since Rick Helling’s 20 in 1998.
Josh Reddick went deep twice, including one of Oakland’s three solo homers in the eighth off reliever Mike Adams. Jonny Gomes had three hits, including an RBI double.
Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his 36th save in 38 chances.
Oakland (88-68) won the previous two nights in Texas, in 10 innings Tuesday before taking a 5-0 lead of their own only eight batters into Wednesday’s 9-3 victory.
The A’s wrapped up a 20-game stretch of six series in six cities and won 12 times. Their 51-26 record since the start of July is the best in the majors. They finish the regular season at home, with a three-game weekend series against Seattle before hosting the Rangers starting Monday night.
Texas is home this weekend against the Los Angeles Angels, who were 1½ games behind Oakland for the AL’s second wild card. The Angels played later Thursday at home against Seattle.
Blackley lasted only one inning, allowing five runs and five hits with a wild pitch.
The Rangers scored in each of the first four innings against three different pitchers.
Kinsler extended his own franchise record with his 27th career leadoff homer. Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young then had two-out singles before Napoli’s opposite-field homer to right-center.
Josh Hamilton got his 125th RBI with a double in the Texas second, an inning before Napoli’s run-scoring single made it 7-2.
Reddick, who snapped a season-worst 0-for-30 slump with singles in his last two at-bats Wednesday night, made it three hits in a row when he pulled a pitch into the second deck of seats in right field in the second inning for his 30th homer of the season.
Derek Norris hit a two-run homer in the fourth for Oakland to make it 7-4. Yoenis Cespedes led off the eighth with his 22nd homer and Brandon Moss hit his 20th before Reddick homered again.
NOTES: Texas and Oakland have split their 16 games this season. … A’s rookie A.J. Griffin (6-1) starts the series opener against Seattle. … Ryan Dempster, 7-2 for Texas since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 31, starts against Angels ace Jered Weaver (19-4). … Oakland batters struck out seven times, extending the American League season record the A’s set Wednesday night to 1,340 with six games to play. … Napoli was 0 for 11 with six strikeouts in the series before his homer.