OAKLAND, Calif. – Ron Washington's reigning AL champions are on quite a roll, finding ways to win the tough ones — and the strange ones — exactly when they want to be playing their best.
They held on through all kinds of interesting circumstances Sunday.
David Murphy hit a tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning, and Texas survived after blowing a six-run lead to beat the Oakland Athletics 7-6 and complete a three-game series sweep.
Mike Adams (1-1) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the victory, then Neftali Feliz finished for his 23rd save in 29 chances as the Rangers won their fourth straight road game heading into a key four-game series with the Angels in Anaheim.
"We're excited about it," slugger Josh Hamilton said of his team's recent run of success. "I don't want to say it relaxes us, but it makes us want to get after it more and send a message. A month and a half to go, all the rest of the series with them are very important."
Mitch Moreland hit a sacrifice fly, Michael Young and Mike Napoli each drew bases-loaded walks against former Ranger Rich Harden and first-place Texas extended its winning streak in the rivalry to eight games. The Rangers (69-52) also moved a season-best 17 games over .500.
Andrew Bailey (0-3) issued a one-out walk to Moreland in the ninth. Craig Gentry came in to run for Moreland and stole second on a 1-2 count to put himself in good position on Murphy's single to center.
"I can't put a guy on in that situation," Bailey said.
This marks the A's longest skid against the Rangers since dropping nine in a row from June 19-Sept. 30, 1986. Texas outscored Oakland 23-8 in the series — and did so without a single home run. The Rangers left a man on base every inning Sunday.
Oakland's Hideki Matsui hit a tying RBI single in the sixth after he was brushed back twice by reliever Darren Oliver, once even going to the ground to get out of the way.
A day after the A's committed four errors, they had another blunder. Right fielder David DeJesus dropped a routine fly ball by Ian Kinsler in the fifth, allowing two runs to score.
In the bottom half, Kinsler misplayed a bouncing grounder to second that went under his glove and brought home Oakland's first two runs.
The game had a little bit of everything: an Oakland comeback that fell short, a hit batter and wild pitch that scored Texas' initial run, the two defensive mistakes and a balk. Rangers starter Matt Harrison even turned his attention for a brief moment to the folkloric dancers who performed on "Fiesta Day" right behind home plate as he warmed up in the middle of the sixth.
Harrison's concern was hitting someone if the ball got past his catcher.
"You don't see that every day," Washington said. "It sort of distracted Harrison — not because he couldn't get in rhythm but because he didn't want to let one get away. That had nothing to do with how the sixth inning unfolded. They swung the bats."
Harrison was done that inning. He allowed Scott Sizemore's leadoff double, an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki one out later and then Brandon Allen's RBI double. No. 9 hitter Cliff Pennington walked and Washington turned to Oliver.
Late lineup addition and newcomer Allen provided the highlights for Oakland, which lost its third straight on the heels of a 4-2 road trip.
The finale was considered an improvement, though, after the A's lost 9-1 on Friday and 7-1 on Saturday.
"In our dugout, the feeling was that we were going to win that game, no question, once we tied it up," manager Bob Melvin said. "So the mojo kind of turned for us a bit. ... They took it to us, obviously and beat us. And we didn't respond very well during those (first two) games. To be able to come back and do what we did today kind of in the face of all of what I've been talking about was a good sign."
Allen singled leading off the third for his first hit since joining the A's, then produced another base hit to start the fifth. He also had the double in the sixth.
Allen, acquired in last month's trade with Arizona that sent reliever Brad Ziegler to the Diamondbacks, was called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday.
Harrison received a mound visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux after loading the bases with one out in the third. He calmly got out of it unscathed, retiring Matsui on a flyout and cleanup hitter Josh Willingham on a swinging strikeout.
Harden fell behind right away against his former team. He hit leadoff man Kinsler with a pitch, then got Elvis Andrus on a flyout before four straight Rangers reached base. Texas' first run scored on a wild pitch, then Napoli drew a bases-loaded walk and Moreland added his sacrifice fly.
Harden walked in another run in the fourth when Young drew a free pass. Harden wound up with a season-high five walks over four innings. The right-hander hadn't issued five walks since last Aug. 23 while with Texas.
The reigning AL champion Rangers released Harden after the 2010 regular season, in which he struggled with injuries and control. Harden received a $1.5 million, one-year contract in December to rejoin Oakland, his original team.
NOTES: Rangers DH Yorvit Torrealba extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a leadoff single in the fourth. Young's hitting streak ended at 12 games. ... Oakland scratched 1B Conor Jackson from the lineup because of neck tightness. Allen took his place. ... A's CF Coco Crisp returned to the lineup after missing six games with a strained right calf. ... Texas has won 17 of 21 vs. the AL West since May 15. ... LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-10) pitches Monday's series opener for the A's against Baltimore trying to end a four-start losing streak. Gonzalez is 0-5 with a 5.82 ERA in six starts against AL East clubs this year. ... RHP Alexi Ogando (11-5) takes the ball in Texas' opener with the Angels. Ogando, 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA lifetime vs. Los Angeles, looks to take over the team lead in victories.