First place in the American League West will be on the line Tuesday when the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics continue a critical three-game series at O.co Coliseum.
Oakland won for the seventh time in eight tries and moved into a tie with the Rangers atop the division on Monday, as Coco Crisp belted a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fifth inning and Yoenis Cespedes added a solo blast in a 4-2 win.
Grant Balfour put the tying run on second base in the ninth but escaped with his 36th save after getting Ian Kinsler on a fly out to right and Adrian Beltre on a groundout to third.
"I'm enjoying the (pennant) race...as long as we finish on top," Balfour said.
Four Oakland relievers combined for four scoreless innings after Dan Straily (8-7) allowed two runs on three hits and three walks in the first five frames.
Texas, which had been in sole possession of first place since Aug. 10, has dropped three of four and couldn't get much going offensively outside of David Murphy's two-run homer. The club went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.
"We gave ourselves opportunities...we just didn't take advantage," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Derek Holland (9-7) was touched for four runs -- three earned -- on five hits and five walks in just 4 2/3 innings. It was the first time since June 6 the left-hander failed to work through the sixth -- a span of 14 starts.
Hits may be hard to come by again on Tuesday, as the Rangers go up against hefty right-hander Bartolo Colon, who is 14-5 with a 2.94 ERA. Colon pitched for the first time in over two weeks on Thursday in Detroit and looked good, as he allowed one run in five innings. However, he did not get a decision in his team's 7-6 loss.
Colon beat the Rangers the last time he faced them and is 19-7 lifetime against them with a 3.65 ERA in 31 starts.
Texas, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Martin Perez, who has won his last five starts. Perez was again on the mark Wednesday in Seattle, as he surrendered two runs and five hits in six innings to run his record to 8-3 to go along with a 3.58 ERA.
"He just goes out there and does what he does," Washington said. "That's throw the fastball down in the zone, change speeds and use his breaking ball and move it around."
Oakland gave Perez fits last year, though, as he was 1-2 in three starts against the club with a 9.90 ERA.
Texas has won eight of 14 from the A's this season.