Arlington, TX – Adrian Beltre knocked in the game-winning run with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Texas Rangers past the Oakland Athletics, 5-4, in the opener of a four-game set.
Back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third. Josh Hamilton was intentionally walked to load the bases for Beltre, who ripped a base hit back up the middle to knock in pinch-runner Craig Gentry.
Beltre's two-run blast tied the game in the seventh. Hamilton worked a two-out walk before Beltre drove his 35th homer of year into the right-field seats.
"I think (Beltre) may have tweaked his stomach on that double down the line (earlier in the game)," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "But other than that, he came back and hit a home run, then he got the single up the middle so it wasn't too bad."
With the win, the Rangers extended their lead in the AL West to five games. Oakland holds a two-game advantage over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the final AL wild card spot.
"We want to clinch earlier than it looks like we are going to," Beltre said. "We want to get our starting pitching rotation set up so we can be comfortable. The sooner we can clinch the better."
Joe Nathan (3-4) worked a hitless ninth to earn the win. Derek Holland started for the Rangers, but lasted just three innings. He gave up three runs on four hits and struck out four.
Beltre finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBI.
Tyson Ross (2-11) took the loss after giving up the winning-run.
"Its one game, we have to bounce back. We did it in both Detroit and New York," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We lost some tough ones and bounced back to win the last game of each series. It would be nice to get a win in the first game of this series, but you have to move on from (the loss)."
Josh Donaldson's two-run shot in the second put the A's on the board. Brandon Moss walked to open the frame before Donaldson followed with a towering homer, his eighth of the year.
Texas countered with a run in the home half to make it 2-1. With runners on the corners Mitch Moreland dropped a single in front of Moss in left field, scoring Michael Young.
Yoenis Cespedes clobbered his 21st homer over the left field wall in the third inning to push Oakland's margin to 3-1.
Hamilton crushed a solo homer into the second deck right-center field to pull the Rangers within 3-2 in the fifth.
With runners on the corners in the sixth Cliff Pennington laced a single to left field to plate Moss.
Texas has been in first place in the AL West for 170 days ... Holland had worked at least seven innings in each of his last four starts ... Dan Straily started for the A's. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on five hits and stuck out eight over 6 2/3 innings.