Even though the Oakland Athletics will finish .500 at best, they continue to find success in the final month of the season.
The Athletics look for their fifth straight victory on Tuesday in the middle contest of a three-game road series against the reeling Texas Rangers.
Oakland (75-81) is surging despite the fact it likely will conclude the season below the .500 mark for the second straight season.
The Athletics have won four in a row, and eight of their last nine contests after posting a 4-3, 11-inning victory at Texas (75-82) on Monday. Travis Buck’s one-out single drove home the winning run, vaulting his team past the Rangers for second place in the AL West for the first time since July 25.
Oakland finished third in the division last year after winning it in 2006.
“I love it. The guys played to the end. They never quit,” Athletics manager Bob Geren said. “We want to finish strong. We’re showing we can win some games. It carries over.”
While Monday’s result extended the A’s winning momentum, it also assured Texas of a fourth straight losing record—its eighth in the last nine seasons.
The Rangers are trying to finish higher than third in the AL West for the first time since clinching the division in 1999.
“We wanted to do better than .500,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I’m very disappointed.”
The Rangers, who have two contests left on their nine-game homestand, have dropped five straight for the first time since a seven-game slide April 18-24.
They’ll try to put an end to those struggles behind Dustin Nippert (3-5, 6.47 ERA), who has won two of his last three starts.
The right-hander totaled six strikeouts, but also conceded five runs and six hits, while walking a season high-tying four over 4 1-3 innings of a 17-4 home loss to Detroit on Sept. 17. He had given up just one run over 12 innings in winning his first two starts of the month.
“It was just one of those games where one thing happened and then one thing after another happened,” Nippert told the Rangers’ official Web site. “Once I started thinking about my mechanics, it all started to fall apart.”
He had better results in his only career start against the A’s. Nippert yielded a run and four hits, and equaled a career high with seven strikeouts over five innings of a 6-1 win at Oakland on Sept. 11.
He’ll match up against Josh Outman (1-1, 4.61), who hopes to bounce back from a rough performance.
The rookie left-hander gave up three runs and six hits over 4 1-3 innings of a 6-4 home defeat to the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.
But he was much more efficient in his first start, holding the Rangers to a run and four hits over five innings of a 7-1 home win on Sept. 13.
Outman looks to help Oakland match a season-high five-game winning streak last accomplished May 21-27, and win three straight in Texas for the first time since a six-game run July 21-Sept. 10, 2005.