ARLINGTON, Texas -- For catcher Jason Kendall, it was just an instinct play. And it saved the game for the surging Oakland Athletics.
With the potential tying run charging home and the wild pitch bouncing away from him, Kendall scrambled to get the ball. He made a barehanded grab and then dived headfirst back toward the plate, getting there just in time for Michael Young to slide into his mitt for the game-ending out in an 11-10 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
"It's just instinct. I didn't know how far it was. When I grabbed it, I knew it would be a bang-bang play," Kendall said. "I happened to grab it cleanly. If I don't, he's safe and it's a tie game."
The Rangers had already scored twice in the ninth when Justin Duchscherer's 1-2 pitch to Alfonso Soriano bounced in the dirt, ricocheting high off Kendall's shoulder and away from the runner. Young immediately took off from third, but never got to the plate because Kendall was laid out with his arms fully extended over it.
"It was the right play: two strikes, two outs. I had a big lead and a good jump," Young said. "It was going to take a good bounce and a perfect play by Kendall, and they got both."
Nick Swisher drove in four runs with a homer and a double and Danny Haren won his AL-best seventh straight decision for Oakland, which won for the 24th time in 30 games.
The Athletics had an 11-6 lead after Kendall had an RBI triple and then scored on Mark Kotsay's single in the eighth. They needed his defensive gem to hold on.
"He put his face in the middle of the play and got the out," first baseman Dan Johnson said.
The first three Rangers reached in the ninth. After Young's RBI single made it 11-9, Mark Teixeira struck out and Hank Blalock had an RBI groundout. Duchscherer then tried to throw a cutter to Soriano.
"That's not the way you want to save a game," said Duchscherer, who got the last four outs for his fifth save.
The A's overcame a 3-0 deficit for the second straight night in Texas. Oakland (50-45) has won five of six between the teams since the All-Star break, taking a 2½-game lead over the Rangers for second place in the AL West.
It was the Rangers' second 11-10 loss in five days. They lost by the same score to the New York Yankees on Monday night and are 2-7 since the All-Star break.
"I'm frustrated for them. They put so much into winning that game," manager Buck Showalter said. "I applaud Mike. It's a good risk."
Teixeira hit a two-run homer, his 26th, and had a sacrifice fly for Texas. Richard Hidalgo was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the eighth.
Haren (8-7) allowed three runs through the first five batters. He then got a double play, the first of three in four innings, and faced the minimum 13 batters until David Dellucci singled to start the Rangers' three-run sixth.
With seven wins over 11 starts, Haren has the longest active winning streak among AL pitchers. He allowed six runs and six hits over 5 1-3 innings.
Bobby Kielty's go-ahead hit off Chris Young (8-6) in the third extended his hitting streak to 14 games and put the A's ahead to stay at 5-3. It came right after Eric Chavez snapped an 0-for-15 slump with a popup that fell in shallow left between two outfielders for an RBI single.
Swisher's 13th homer was a two-run shot in the second, and he added a two-run double in the three-run fifth that made it 8-3. Swisher drove in three runs and scored another in Oakland's series-opening 6-4 victory.
Haren hadn't gotten a decision in his three previous starts in July, all extra-inning victories for Oakland. Texas then got three first-inning runs with just one hit, a two-run double by Soriano. There were also two walks, an error and Teixeira's sacrifice fly.
Haren pitched to just one more batter after Teixeira's first homer in nine games, with no outs in the sixth after Young's RBI double.
Chris Young gave up six runs and seven hits, throwing 101 pitches while going just one batter into the fifth. He has allowed 29 earned runs over 33 1/3 innings his last seven starts, increasing his ERA from 2.78 to 4.30.
Kevin Gryboski, acquired in a trade from Atlanta on Thursday, made his first Texas appearance in the eighth and gave up RBI hits to the first three batters he faced: singles by Mark Ellis and Bobby Crosby, and Kendall's triple.
Teixeira is 6-for-35 since being the AL's starting first baseman in the All-Star Game. ... Oakland has won 13 of 18 road games since an 11-game losing streak away from home. ... Haren walked two, but has just 12 walks over his last 12 starts.