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September 15, 2013

Athletics 5, Rangers 1 (F)

ARLINGTON – Before the game started, the Texas Rangers received good news. The Oakland A’s would be without Yoenis Cespedes, who is batting .373 in September, and also had to make a late pitching change when Jarrod Parker came down with an illness.

Nothing, though, seems to help the Rangers these days. Tommy Milone filled in as the A’s emergency starter and threw five innings of one-run ball, and the A’s went on to a 5-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Oakland swept the final series between the top two American League West teams, and strengthened its grip for a second consecutive division crown by extending the lead to 6 ½ games with 14 games left.

The Rangers went 0-6 on the home stand, and have lost 12 of their last 15. They remain tied with the Rays for the top wild card spot, however.

Milone earned his first career victory against the Rangers. He had been 0-4 with a 5.67 ERA in five starts going into Sunday, including allowing six runs in each of his two starts against the Rangers earlier this season.

But the Rangers couldn’t string together hits at the right time, and also found themselves playing from behind once again. They never led during the home stand.

Rangers starter Martin Perez allowed two runs in the first inning. Coco Crisp led off with an infield single, and scored on a double-play grounder by Jed Lowrie. Josh Donaldson then connected on a two-out solo homer.

The Rangers pulled to within 2-1 in the bottom of the first on a two-out RBI single by A.J. Pierzynski, but that was as close as they’d come.

Oakland extended its lead to 3-1 in the third on a two-out solo homer by Chris Young, and sealed it with a two-run homer by Josh Reddick in the ninth off Joakim Soria.

Texas had its chances throughout the day, though, stranding 10 men on base and going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They left 47 on base throughout the home stand.

With runners at first and second with one out in the second, Ian Kinsler flew out and Elvis Andrus lined out. There were two runners on with one out in the fourth, too, but Craig Gentry flew out and Kinsler struck out.

The best chance might have come in the sixth. Jurickson Profar had a one-out single and advanced to third on Jim Adduci’s single. But pinch-hitter David Murphy flew out to shallow left and Leonys Martin popped out to short.

Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre had consecutive two-out singles in the seventh, but that threat ended on a pop up by Pierzynski.

The losing streak and September slide has caught manager Ron Washington by surprise.

“I can’t imagine the lull we’re in,” he said before the game. “We’ve got guys out there who have delivered in RBI situations before and we just haven’t been able to do it. It’s not us, but we’ve just got to keep fighting. We’re not quitting.”

-- Drew Davison

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