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Texas at Oakland

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Texas (93-67)001100100360
Oakland (92-68) «20002000x490

A's clinch playoff berth, move within one game of AL West lead

CBSSports.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Hat on backward and goggles covering his eyes, Yoenis Cespedes started dancing in the middle of the clubhouse as the bubbly streamed every which way.

Quickly, his Oakland teammates joined in the fun -- and the Cuban rookie doused anybody he could get.

He might have soaked Coco Crisp the best with a double pour over the head.

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Crisp's latest big hit helped put the Athletics in the playoffs for the first time in six years, and they remained in contention for a division crown by beating the first-place Texas Rangers 4-3 on Monday night.

"We're just a bunch of young guys having fun," Crisp said, standing in water wearing soggy socks. "You wouldn't think all these rookies would be doing things like this."

Crisp had a go-ahead double in the fifth inning as the A's (92-68) pulled within one game of Texas (93-67) in the AL West with two to go and moved into a tie with Baltimore for the American League's top wild card.

Oakland's victory also eliminated the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays from playoff contention.

Pinch-hitter Brandon Moss delivered a sacrifice fly for insurance and Josh Reddick added an RBI single for the resurgent A's, who must sweep this season-ending series against the two-time reigning AL champions to capture the West title.

"Absolutely amazing," said manager Bob Melvin, who took a whipped cream pie in the face from Reddick. "We don't get this done unless everybody believes in everybody and everybody plays unselfishly."

Michael Young and Mike Napoli each hit a home run against Jarrod Parker, who was otherwise solid in beating the Rangers for the third time in as many career chances -- all this year.

Crisp followed the double by stealing his 39th base, then scored on Moss' fly ball to shallow center. Center fielder Josh Hamilton hesitated ever so slightly before making the throw home, just enough for Crisp to slide in safely.

The reliable leadoff man returned Friday after missing nine starts with an infection in both eyes. Crisp is batting .529 (9 for 17) with seven runs, three doubles, three stolen bases and two RBIs in four games since coming back.

Playing to chants of "Let's go Oakland!" from the crowd of 21,162, the gutsy A's won their fourth consecutive game and sixth in seven with the very formula that has been working so well: forget the scoreboard-watching and just control their part in the playoff picture. Fans were on their feet chanting as closer Grant Balfour finished it out by striking out the side.

Moments later, players brought bottles of bubbly onto the field and began spraying them into the stands. Outside the aging Coliseum, car horns honked as this blue-collar city enjoyed its big moment on the baseball stage.

"Awesome! Unbelievable," Balfour said mid-celebration. "I want to keep doing it."

This Oakland team has surprised everyone from owner Lew Wolff to general manager Billy Beane and Melvin with its knack for late-inning drama from a long list of players who had barely been heard of before this season.

"I never thought we'd be here this time of year," Wolff said. "The last time we did this we had a mature group. We're in the best shape we've ever been for the future."

Parker pitched the A's back to the postseason for the first time since they were swept by Detroit in the 2006 AL championship series. He matched teammate Tommy Milone for the Oakland rookie record of 13 wins.

"Sky high," Parker said of his team's confidence. "This is a team that knows it can do a lot of things. It's no surprise to me. It might be a surprise to everybody else."

The right-hander is the latest in a rotation of rookies to come through for an Oakland staff that in trades last winter lost Gio Gonzalez to Washington, Trevor Cahill to Arizona and All-Star closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox. Dependable catcher Kurt Suzuki was shipped to the Nationals during the season, and starter Bartolo Colon was suspended in August for testing positive for testosterone.

Melvin emerged as a Manager of the Year candidate with the way he mixed and matched and kept running out a winning club despite injuries to so many players and new faces arriving in the clubhouse seemingly every day for the small-budget A's.

Oakland moved a season-high 24 games over .500 for its best mark since ending that '06 season at 93-69.

"They play with no conscious. They're not afraid of nobody right now," said Rangers manager Ron Washington, Oakland's longtime third-base coach before leaving to manage Texas. "I'm never surprised what happens over in that clubhouse with the Oakland A's. They've always got pitching, and when you've got pitching, you never know what can happen."

This one sure had the feel of a fall October playoff game despite the unseasonably warm 82-degree temperature at first pitch.

The Rangers now must wait at least one more day as they try to clinch their third straight division title. Texas won the second game of Sunday's doubleheader at home against the Angels to secure a third straight playoff appearance for the first time in franchise history and sixth overall.

"I'm not sending any message. My team knows what needs to be done," Washington said. "The message was sent yesterday."

Then, the Rangers landed at the Oakland airport about 1:30 a.m. Monday and arrived at their hotel after 2 a.m. Washington said he finally got to bed around 3 a.m. local time.

Washington wasn't too tired to weigh in on Oakland's playoff chances, though.

"If they react like they react now, like, 'Who cares?' then it could be [a success]," Washington said. "Being in the postseason is a different animal."

The AL playoff lineup became a little more clear Monday, with two teams clinching spots. Detroit won earlier in the night at Kansas City to wrap up the AL Central crown.

Parker was done after allowing Napoli's leadoff homer in the seventh. Sean Doolittle retired the next three batters in order and Ryan Cook worked a 1-2-3 eighth through the heart of the Rangers' order. Balfour then earned his 23rd save.

Parker improved to 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA against Texas in his fourth consecutive winning decision and sixth in seven since a loss Aug. 14 at Kansas City.

Texas starter Martin Perez (1-4), facing the A's for the third time in his six major league starts, allowed back-to-back singles by Crisp and Jonny Gomes in the first before receiving a mound visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux. Perez then got Yoenis Cespedes to ground into a double play before walking Chris Carter ahead of Reddick's single.

The left-hander also was called for a balk with the bases loaded to bring home Oakland's second run. Perez lost his second successive start to the A's after a 9-3 defeat his last time out in Texas.

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was the designated hitter a day after coming out in the seventh inning when he aggravated his strained left shoulder while leaping for a ball with his arm fully extended. Washington said Beltre could play third base Tuesday night.

Notes

  • Texas' Nos. 3-5 hitters went 1 for 12 with five strikeouts.
  • The A's are 5-2 vs. Texas at home this year and lead the season series 9-8.
  • Perez beat the A's for his first major-league victory June 30.
  • Washington gave Melvin his vote for Manager of the Year. "To take that group where they are right now, wow, you've got to admire him," Washington said. "They play like they belong."
  • It was the second-warmest game of the season in Oakland and hottest for a night game.
  • The attendance included approximately 5,000 walk-up tickets.
 
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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The Athletics, who started the season 22-30, reach the playoffs and stay in contention for the AL West title.  (Getty Images)
The Athletics, who started the season 22-30, reach the playoffs and stay in contention for the AL West title. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Oakland

C. Crisp
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
Texas

M. Young
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Texas Rangers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ian Kinsler, 2B4000022 .258
Elvis Andrus, SS3011100 .289
Josh Hamilton, CF4000023 .286
Adrian Beltre, DH4010012 .319
Nelson Cruz, RF4000020 .260
Michael Young, 3B4121011 .275
David Murphy, LF4000012 .303
Mike Napoli, C3211110 .232
Mitch Moreland, 1B3010010 .273
Totals33363211  
Batting
HR - Michael Young (8, Parker), Mike Napoli (24, Parker)
RBI - Elvis Andrus (62), Michael Young (66), Mike Napoli (56)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Kinsler-Moreland
Texas Rangers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Martin Perez (L,1-4) 4644230 5.45
Scott Feldman 1.2100230 5.09
Michael Kirkman 0.1000000 3.89
Koji Uehara 1100000 1.82
Roy Oswalt 1100010 5.83
Pitches-Strikes - Martin Perez 69-37, Scott Feldman 37-20, Michael Kirkman 7-4, Koji Uehara 14-9, Roy Oswalt 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Martin Perez 5-3, Roy Oswalt 2-0
Batters Faced - Martin Perez 19, Scott Feldman 8, Michael Kirkman 1, Koji Uehara 4, Roy Oswalt 4
Oakland Athletics
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Coco Crisp, CF4221002 .262
Jonny Gomes, DH4020011 .260
Yoenis Cespedes, LF3000101 .290
Chris Carter, 1B1100111 .239
   a- Brandon Moss, PH-1B1011000 .287
Josh Reddick, RF4011013 .244
Josh Donaldson, 3B3000100 .237
Stephen Drew, SS4000022 .222
Derek Norris, C3010110 .192
Adam Rosales, 2B2110010 .227
   b- Cliff Pennington, PH-2B2010001 .218
Totals3149347  
a-hit a sacrifice fly for Carter in the 5th
b-singled for Rosales in the 6th
Batting
2B - Coco Crisp (24, Perez), Adam Rosales (5, Perez)
SF - Brandon Moss (2)
RBI - Coco Crisp (44), Brandon Moss (49), Josh Reddick (84)
2-OUT RBI - Josh Reddick (36)
SB - Coco Crisp (39, 3rd base off Feldman/Napoli)
Team LOB - 8
Oakland Athletics
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jarrod Parker (W,13-8) 6633262 3.47
Sean Doolittle (H,16) 1000010 3.18
Ryan Cook (H,19) 1000010 2.14
Grant Balfour (S,23) 1000030 2.60
WP - Jarrod Parker 2 (10)
Pitches-Strikes - Jarrod Parker 94-62, Sean Doolittle 16-12, Ryan Cook 12-9, Grant Balfour 12-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jarrod Parker 4-8, Sean Doolittle 1-1
Batters Faced - Jarrod Parker 26, Sean Doolittle 3, Ryan Cook 3, Grant Balfour 3
Game Information
Attendance - 21162
Game Time - 3:03
Temperature - 82
Umpires - Home - Lance Barksdale, First Base - Field Culbreth, Second Base - Gary Cederstrom, Third Base - Adrian Johnson