The Oakland Athletics are slipping out of the AL West race.
In danger of falling out of contention heading into the season’s final week, the A’s will try to make up some ground when they send Barry Zito to the mound for the middle game of their series with the visiting Texas Rangers.
The loss, coupled with Los Angeles’ 7-5 win over Tampa Bay, dropped the A’s four games behind the Angels with just nine to play. Oakland will host Los Angeles for a four-game set beginning Monday.
The A’s, who lost their second straight following a three-game winning streak, have no choice but to win the West if they want to reach the postseason. Oakland is 6 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.
“We need a seven-game winning streak,” A’s manager Ken Macha said.
Zito has pitched much better than his record would indicate of late, going 3-4 with a 3.68 ERA over his last eight starts. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed two hits over six scoreless innings in Monday’s 7-6 win over Minnesota.
Zito has dominated the Rangers in his career, going 15-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 23 starts.
With Friday’s win, the Rangers ended a three-game slide. Texas is 12-9 in September.
Young led off the sixth with his 24th homer, extending his career-high hitting streak to 20 games, and Mark Teixeira hit his 42nd homer leading off the fourth. Teixeira has 27 RBIs this month, a Rangers record for September.
“I think the Angels are loving us right now,” Teixeira said. “We let them take three games from us in Anaheim, then we took care of Oakland.”
The Rangers have a franchise-high 256 home runs, the third-highest total in major league history. Texas needs eight homers in its last eight games to match the all-time record set by Seattle in 1997.