The Texas Rangers are moving closer to securing their third straight American League West crown and on Tuesday they continue a crucial four-game series with the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Texas lowered its magic number for clinching the division to five in Monday's opener, as Adrian Beltre knocked in the game-winning run with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Rangers to a 5-4 win.
With the victory, the Rangers extended their lead in the AL West to five games over the A's, who still hold a two-game advantage over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the final AL wild card spot.
The Rangers have never gone to the playoffs in three straight years.
"We want to clinch earlier than it looks like we are going to," said Beltre. "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 and had tied the game with a home run in the seventh.
"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."
Tyson Ross (2-11) took the loss after giving up the winning run.
"It's 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)."
Yu Darvish gets the call for the Rangers on Tuesday, as he tries to win his fifth consecutive decision. Darvish beat the Angels on Thursday, holding them to a run and four hits in eight innings to improve to 16-9, while lowering his ERA to 3.90. He also struck out nine.
"I'm learning about myself, especially before this (good) stretch, when I wasn't consistent and wasn't performing," said Darvish, who hasn't given up more than four hits in four straight starts. "These outings are something the team expects. They acquired me to perform like this."
Darvish is 1-2 in three starts against the A's this season with a 4.50 ERA.
Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with left-hander Tommy Milone, who is 13-10 with a 3.86 ERA. Milone did not get a decision on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, as he surrendered three runs and nine hits with three walks in only 4 2/3 innings of a 12-4 win.
Milone has lost both of his starts to the Rangers and has pitched to a 3.75 ERA in those outings.
Texas is 7-6 against the A's this season with five of those wins coming in Arlington.