Darvish aims to close gap between Rangers and A's

If the Texas Rangers want to make a run at an American League West title they're going to have to start winning when Yu Darvish takes the hill.

The Japanese flamethrower tries to snap a three-start losing streak on Saturday when the Rangers continue a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark.

Darvish pitched well enough to win on Monday against Pittsburgh, but was outdueled by Gerrit Cole, despite allowing just one run in seven innings to fall to 12-8 on the year to go along with a 2.84 ERA. He also struck out six to up his major-league leading total to 246.

"We needed him to step up and he did step up," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Darvish, though, has struggled against the A's and has lost all three times he's faced them this season, while pitching to a 5.29 ERA. Overall, he's 1-5 against them with a 4.86 ERA in six starts.

Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with a formidable right-hander of its own in Bartolo Colon, who is coming off his first win since July 26. Colon beat the Houston Astros on Sunday, holding them to a run and five hits over six innings to run his record to 15-6, while lowering his ERA to 2.85.

"That was vintage Bartolo, so to speak," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "He had good velocity and good life on the ball. It was moving."

Colon lost to the Rangers two starts ago, but is 19-8 lifetime against them with a 3.61 ERA in 32 starts.

Oakland continued to pad its lead atop the AL West in Friday's opener, as Yoenis Cespedes smacked a three-run homer, while Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss cracked solo shots to help the A's to a 9-8 win.

The A's had a 9-2 advantage after seven innings before the Rangers, who tallied just two hits through the first seven frames, erupted for six runs in the home eighth.

Adrian Beltre stepped up with the tying run, Alex Rios, at first with two outs in the frame. He ripped a base hit into left against Sean Doolittle, but Cespedes threw out Rios at third on a bang-bang play to end the threat.

Doolittle picked up the final four outs to notch his second save of the year. Robinson Chirinos slapped a two-out double down the right field line in the ninth, but Doolittle struck out Jurickson Profar to end the game.

Oakland, which was three games behind the Rangers on Aug. 30, has won 11 of 14 since and now holds a 4 1/2-game lead over them in the AL West.

Texas, meanwhile, has dropped nine of its last 11 tilts.

"We're not out of it, we've still got fight," Washington said. "We're going to come back tomorrow and still fight and we're going to get it right. We never quit. We just didn't win the game."

Texas has won nine of its 17 matchups with the A's this season.