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A's 4, Rangers 2

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- With 25 games left to play, nothing separates the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers in the American West.

The A's pulled into a first-place tie Monday afternoon, beating the Rangers 4-2 in the opener of a three-game series at the O.co Coliseum.

Oakland's Coco Crisp hit his career-high 17th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth inning, and Yoenis Cespedes ripped his 21st home run of the year, a solo shot in the second.

David Murphy hit a two-run homer in the fifth for the Rangers.

Last year the A's made a furious comeback and passed the Rangers on the final day of the season to win the West. This year, they're both 79-58 heading down the backstretch.

A's right-hander Dan Straily (8-7) pitched five innings for the win, allowing two runs on three hits, while striking out four and walking three.

Rangers left-hander Derek Holland (9-7) took the loss. He lasted only 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs -- three earned -- and five hits, including two homers. He walked five, matching his season high, and struck out a season-low one. Holland came into the game with a 5-2 mark and 2.64 ERA for his career against the A's.

The A's grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second against Holland. Leading off, Cespedes faced a 2-2 count and ripped a 95 mph fastball over the left-center wall. He snapped a 13-game homerless streak.

Going into the game, Cespedes had only two hits in 11 at-bats against Holland, but both of those hits were home runs. Holland had allowed only 14 home runs this season before Cespedes unloaded Monday.

The A's made it 2-0 when Alberto Callaspo lined a one-out double to left and scored on Chris Young's sharp single to center. The ball got past Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin, and Young tried to score, but the Rangers nailed him at the plate on a relay from Martin to shortstop Jurickson Profar to catcher A. J. Pierzynski.

The Rangers pulled even in the top of the fifth on Murphy's two-run shot, his 13th blast of the year. With one out and Mitch Moreland on first after a leadoff walk, Murphy crushed Straily's 2-2 pitch high and deep over the center-field fence. It was Murphy's first homer since Aug. 1 and snapped a 23-game homerless streak.

But in the bottom of the frame, Crisp answered with a two-run shot to left after rookie Michael Choice, leading off, reached on a throwing error by third baseman Adrian Beltre. Crisp's homer hit the foul pole just above the short fence in left. Rangers manager Ron Washington immediately asked for and received a video review, but the call stood, and the A's took a 4-2 lead. Crisp homered for the third straight game and has seven homers in his past 12 games.

Crisp fouled a ball off his right shin in the bottom of the sixth and, after striking out, left the game.

A's relievers Dan Otero, Brett Anderson, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour combined to blank the Rangers over the final four innings. Balfour got his 36th save, pitching out of jam in the ninth after the Rangers put two runners on with no outs.

NOTES: Rangers outfielder/DH Lance Berkman, who was activated Sunday from the disabled list, made his first appearance since July 6, starting at designated hitter. He went 0-for-4. ... Choice, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2010 draft, made his major-league debut Monday, starting at designated hitter against the Texas Rangers, his hometown team. Choice attended Arlington's Timberview High School and the University of Texas-Arlington. ... Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (back spasms) missed his second straight game. ... The Rangers announced that they would promote three more players from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday: right-hander Ross Wolf and outfielders Engel Beltre and Joey Butler.
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