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A's remain in playoff contention with crucial victory

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jason Kendall is playing in his first pennant race after nine years of losing in Pittsburgh. Despite a playoff-starved career and months of frustration with his production at the plate, Kendall keeps contributing big hits.

The Oakland Athletics considered this about as must-win as they get, and their first-year catcher came through.

Kendall hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and the A's rallied from a three-run deficit for a 7-6 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

With the A's struggling to remain in playoff contention, they pulled out a crucial victory by coming back after trailing 5-2.

"I'm having the time of my life," said Kendall, whose Pirates teams never had a record above .500 after Sept. 1. "We're still having fun. We've got to win."

After Jay Payton led off the eighth with a double down the left-field line, Dan Johnson followed with a tying RBI double off the wall in right. Hiram Bocachica entered as a pinch-runner, John Wasdin (2-2) intentionally walked Mark Ellis and Kendall's drive got past shortstop Michael Young, allowing Bocachica to score the go-ahead run.

"The guys know what's at stake, and they're playing with urgency," A's manager Ken Macha said.

Eric Chavez added an RBI single in the inning for his third hit of the day to go with his seventh-inning sacrifice fly.

Oakland began the day trailing AL West-leading Los Angeles by four games. The Angels, who play four games at the A's next week, were at home against Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

"It's a good win today, not a must-win but pretty darn important," designated hitter Scott Hatteberg said. "The little things are something we've really got to do consistently."

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer and a two-run double for Texas. He connected for the second straight day, sending his career-best 43rd homer over the left-field wall in the first inning.

The home run was the 257th of the year for the Rangers, matching the 1996 Baltimore Orioles for the second-best total in major league history, seven behind the 1997 Seattle Mariners.

Teixeira has nine homers in September and 31 RBI this month, the most in the majors and a franchise record.

Young extended his career-best hitting streak to 21 games with an infield single in the third, hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the fifth and also singled in a run in the ninth.

He is more concerned with helping Texas end the season on a strong note.

"I'm really trying not to think about it," Young said. "I've been doing the best I can to just focus on finishing out the schedule for the right reasons, and that's to try to help the team win as many games."

Barry Zito allowed baserunners in every inning but the fourth and was done after six innings. Justin Duchscherer (7-4) pitched the eighth with a sore back, and Huston Street finished for his 22nd save in 26 chances.

Zito struck out five and walked two, allowing five runs and seven hits.

The A's are trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight season after a stretch of four straight postseason berths from 2000-2003. Oakland went 7-20 in May with two eight-game losing streaks before bouncing back with another of the club's second-half surges to make things interesting.

"We're going out there fighting," said Johnson, Oakland's rookie first baseman. "Every game is huge for us right now. We're not going to quit until the last out is made. ... That's the kind of guys we've got on this team."

Rangers starter R.A. Dickey pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and four hits. He walked a career-high five batters.

Oakland loaded the bases against C.J. Wilson in the seventh, with Chavez's sacrifice fly pulling the A's to 5-4.

Gary Matthews Jr. also added two hits and scored a run for Texas, which won Friday's series opener 3-1.

Notes

  • A's RHP Rich Harden could pitch out of the bullpen as soon as Sunday. Harden reported normal soreness in his throwing shoulder a day after pitching a simulated game to test a strained muscle beneath the shoulder. Harden, sidelined since Aug. 19 with the injury, played some light catch in the outfield before Saturday's game. "It feels like I went out and threw yesterday," he said. "It's sore around all those muscles around the area, but not in that spot. That's a good sign. It shows I'm getting stronger." He is scheduled to throw again Sunday.
  • Matthews stole his eighth base of the year in the seventh.
  • Teixeira has driven in at least one run in 12 of his last 17 games.
  • Chavez recorded his 422nd extra-base hit, tying him with Jason Giambi and Sal Bando for fifth place in Oakland history.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Jason Kendall hits the tiebreaking single in the eighth inning to lead the A's rally over the Rangers. (AP)
Jason Kendall hits the tiebreaking single in the eighth inning to lead the A's rally over the Rangers. (AP)

Players of the Game
Oakland

E. Chavez
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
Texas

M. Young
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Texas Rangers
Gary Matthews Jr., CF4120101 .257
Michael Young, SS5232002 .332
Mark Teixeira, 1B4124102 .298
Hank Blalock, 3B4000023 .268
Alfonso Soriano, 2B4000021 .269
Kevin Mench, LF4000000 .266
Phil Nevin, DH4000010 .237
Rod Barajas, C3020100 .258
    Esteban German, PR0100000 .000
Mark DeRosa, RF3100123 .262
Totals356964712 
Batting
2B - Mark Teixeira (38, Zito)
HR - Mark Teixeira (43, Zito)
RBI - Michael Young 2 (88), Mark Teixeira 4 (138)
2-OUT RBI - Michael Young (37)
SB - Gary Matthews Jr. (8, 2nd base off Witasick/Kendall)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Dickey-Young-Teixeira, Soriano-Young-Teixeira
PB - Rod Barajas 2 (7)
Texas Rangers
R.A. Dickey 5.2432520 6.12
C.J. Wilson (H,4) 0.2211200 7.24
John Wasdin (BS,2; L,2-2) 1333110 4.32
Brian Shouse 0.1100000 5.58
Steve Karsay 0.1000000 7.06
IBB - Ellis by John Wasdin
HBP - Kendall (by R.A. Dickey)
WP - John Wasdin (2)
Pitches-Strikes - R.A. Dickey 94-48, C.J. Wilson 23-11, John Wasdin 20-13, Brian Shouse 6-4, Steve Karsay 5-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - R.A. Dickey 6-7
Batters Faced - R.A. Dickey 25, C.J. Wilson 6, John Wasdin 7, Brian Shouse 2, Steve Karsay 1
Oakland Athletics
Mark Ellis, 2B2200311 .323
Jason Kendall, C3011101 .269
Mark Kotsay, CF4010103 .281
Eric Chavez, 3B4232001 .271
Bobby Crosby, SS5110006 .282
Scott Hatteberg, DH3001103 .262
Jay Payton, LF3121100 .277
Dan Johnson, 1B4022002 .280
    Hiram Bocachica, PR-RF0100000 .222
Nick Swisher, RF-1B3000125 .232
Totals3171078322 
Batting
2B - Eric Chavez (37, Dickey), Bobby Crosby (24, Dickey), Jay Payton (15, Wasdin), Dan Johnson (19, Wasdin)
SF - Eric Chavez (9)
RBI - Jason Kendall (49), Eric Chavez 2 (96), Scott Hatteberg (59), Jay Payton (63), Dan Johnson 2 (52)
2-OUT RBI - Eric Chavez (30), Dan Johnson (16)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Crosby-Johnson
Oakland Athletics
Barry Zito 6755251 3.74
Jay Witasick 0.1000200 2.79
Ricardo Rincon 0.2000000 4.46
Justin Duchscherer (W,7-4) 1000020 2.34
Huston Street (S,22) 1211000 1.66
IBB - Teixeira by Jay Witasick
Pitches-Strikes - Barry Zito 111-68, Jay Witasick 13-3, Ricardo Rincon 4-2, Justin Duchscherer 10-7, Huston Street 19-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Barry Zito 4-9, Ricardo Rincon 1-0
Batters Faced - Barry Zito 27, Jay Witasick 3, Ricardo Rincon 1, Justin Duchscherer 3, Huston Street 5
Game Information
Attendance - 26704
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 65
Umpires - Home - Mike Reilly, First Base - Jeff Kellogg, Second Base - Mark Carlson, Third Base - Dan Iassogna