|Texas (90-65) «||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||3||11||1|
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Now that he has a spot in the American League record books, Texas slugger Ian Kinsler wants to get the Rangers there, too.
With a few more victories, they'll be on their way to making that happen.
Kinsler hit a tying home run leading off the eighth and Josh Hamilton followed with another home run two batters later, lifting Texas to a 3-2 victory against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night and reducing the Rangers magic number to clinch the AL West to three.
|More on Rangers at A's|
In doing so, Kinsler became the first second baseman in AL history to have 30 home runs, 30 doubles, 100 runs scored and 80 walks in the same season.
That's a nifty accomplishment but Kinsler is focused on something more important -- getting the defending AL champs back into the postseason for another shot at the capturing their first World Series title.
"That's something you think about when the season's over and you're sitting on your couch after a week of just hanging out," Kinsler said of his achievement. "But right now it's all team. It's about winning games, shrinking that magic number and getting to the postseason as quick as possible."
The Rangers, who lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games during the 2010 World Series, inched closer to doing just that.
Although second-place Los Angeles beat Toronto earlier in the day, Texas maintained its five-game leading on the Angels in the West with seven to go. The Rangers can clinch their second successive division title as early as Friday in Arlington when they play host to Seattle in the beginning of a three-game series.
"We went through some ups and downs this year but we were able to stay pretty consistent," Kinsler said. "Right now, we're playing good baseball and we just want to make sure we continue that."
Texas squandered numerous scoring opportunities and trailed 2-1 going into the eighth before Kinsler and Hamilton powered the Rangers back.
"It was an example of the character on this ballclub," manager Ron Washington said. "They never feel like they're out of it and they keep battling. We were fortunate enough that I had the horses to pull that type of stuff off."
Kinsler's 30th home run of the season came on a full-count pitch leading off the eighth against A's reliever Grant Balfour (4-2).
Balfour then retired Elvis Andrus on a flyball before Hamilton connected for his 24th home run to right field. The ball landed halfway up the stairs at the Oakland Coliseum then bounced the rest of the way up.
"The one to Kinsler was a mistake, up and over the plate. The one to Hamilton I thought was a good pitch," Balfour said. "Just a good piece of hitting on his part. I guess it's the life of a reliever."
Koji Uehara (2-3) pitched a scoreless seventh for the victory, his first with the Rangers since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles on July 30. Mike Adams worked the eighth and closer Neftali Feliz handled the ninth for his 29th save in 35 chances.
Jemile Weeks had two hits for the A's, who announced the signing of manager Bob Melvin to a three-year contract before the game. Oakland has lost three straight to fall a season-low 17 games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 4, 2009.
One of Melvin's priorities next season will be trying to get the A's to shake out of their funk against the first-place Rangers.
Texas has won 12 of the past 13 games against Oakland and is 13-4 against the A's this season. The 13 victories matches the club's season record for most victories against one team.
At least this time it was close.
The A's managed to get the tying run on base in the ninth when Feliz walked Josh Willingham, but he retired the next three batters to end it.
Young singled and scored on a double-play grounder in the second inning to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
Oakland, held hitless through the first three innings, tied it when Cliff Pennington doubled off starter C.J. Wilson in the fifth and scored on Brandon Allen's two-out RBI single. Allen's hit ended an 11-for-79 rut for the A's first baseman.
After Michael Taylor walked, Weeks hit a sharp grounder just under the glove of diving Rangers third baseman Beltre to drive in Allen and put Oakland in front 2-1.
The Rangers struggled to get much else going against A's starter Brandon McCarthy, stranding a runner at second in the fifth and at third in the sixth. Texas also put the two runners on with one out in the seventh before breaking through against Balfour in the next inning.
Neither starter factored in the decision in this one.
Wilson allowed five hits over six innings and became the first Texas left-hander to have 200 or more strikeouts in a single season. He fanned eight, walked three and has given up two earned runs or fewer in nine of his past 10 starts.
"[Wilson] tried to go down and away to Allen and when you're sitting on a one-run lead you can't make any mistakes," Washington said of his staff ace. "I'm not saying that was a mistake. He kept us in the ballgame and the bullpen came in and did the rest."
McCarthy, Oakland's best pitcher over the past month, scattered six hits over seven innings and left with a 2-1 lead. He pitched out of jams with runners in scoring position three consecutive innings before Balfour relieved him and allowed two home runs to the first three batters he faced.
Andrus went hitless in four at-bats, ending his modest 13-game hitting streak.
|Ian Kinsler celebrates with a teammate after hitting a game-tying home run in the eighth. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Ian Kinsler, 2B||4||1||2||1||0||0||1||.249|
|Elvis Andrus, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.279|
|Josh Hamilton, LF||4||1||1||1||0||0||1||.300|
|Michael Young, 1B||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.334|
|Mitch Moreland, 1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.262|
|Adrian Beltre, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.290|
|Mike Napoli, C||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.321|
|David Murphy, RF||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.273|
|Nelson Cruz, DH||4||0||1||0||0||0||3||.265|
|Endy Chavez, CF||4||0||0||0||0||0||5||.300|
|HR - Ian Kinsler (30, Balfour), Josh Hamilton (24, Balfour)|
|RBI - Ian Kinsler (74), Josh Hamilton (92)|
|SB - Ian Kinsler (26, 2nd base off McCarthy/Suzuki), David Murphy (10, 2nd base off McCarthy/Suzuki)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Andrus-Young, Napoli-Kinsler-Young-Andrus|
|E - Josh Hamilton (5, Throwing)|
|Koji Uehara (W,2-3)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||2.47|
|Mike Adams (H,30)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||1.42|
|Neftali Feliz (S,29)||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||2.88|
|Pitches-Strikes - C.J. Wilson 111-68, Koji Uehara 13-9, Mike Adams 17-12, Neftali Feliz 20-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - C.J. Wilson 5-3, Koji Uehara 1-0, Mike Adams 2-0, Neftali Feliz 1-2|
|Batters Faced - C.J. Wilson 24, Koji Uehara 3, Mike Adams 3, Neftali Feliz 4|
|Jemile Weeks, 2B||4||0||2||1||0||2||0||.297|
|Coco Crisp, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.270|
|Hideki Matsui, DH||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.255|
|Josh Willingham, LF||3||0||0||0||1||2||1||.251|
|Jai Miller, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.167|
|Scott Sizemore, 3B||2||0||0||0||2||0||1||.238|
|Cliff Pennington, SS||4||1||1||0||0||0||2||.264|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.238|
|Brandon Allen, 1B||3||1||1||1||0||1||0||.215|
|Michael Taylor, RF||2||0||0||0||1||2||0||.238|
|2B - Cliff Pennington (24, Wilson)|
|RBI - Jemile Weeks (31), Brandon Allen (18)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jemile Weeks (15), Brandon Allen (6)|
|SB - Scott Sizemore (4, 2nd base off Wilson/Napoli), Cliff Pennington (14, 3rd base off Wilson/Napoli)|
|CS - Jemile Weeks (11, 2nd base by Wilson/Napoli)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Pennington-Allen, Pennington-Allen, Weeks-Pennington-Allen|
|E - Jemile Weeks (13, Throwing)|
|Grant Balfour (BS,5; L,4-2)||1||3||2||2||0||0||2||2.54|
|Fautino De Los Santos||0.2||1||0||0||0||0||0||3.90|
|Pitches-Strikes - Brandon McCarthy 79-60, Grant Balfour 25-14, Brian Fuentes 7-6, Fautino De Los Santos 10-4|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon McCarthy 10-10, Grant Balfour 1-1, Fautino De Los Santos 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Brandon McCarthy 27, Grant Balfour 5, Brian Fuentes 2, Fautino De Los Santos 2|
|Attendance - 19589|
|Game Time - 2:59|
|Temperature - 66|
|Umpires - Home - Gerry Davis, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Angel Hernandez, Third Base - Todd Tichenor|