ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers entered the month of September with a two-game lead on the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.
However, after Oakland completed a three-game sweep of the Rangers with a 5-1 win Sunday, Texas saw its record in the month fall to 2-11 and the lead in the division turn into a 6 1/2 game deficit.
The Athletics (87-61) also clinched the head-to-head advantage, taking the season series 10-9. Oakland earned its fifth straight win overall to finish a six-game road trip 5-1 and moved its magic number to clinch a playoff berth to seven games.
"The mindset that we have right now is that it is important for us that we don't look ahead to anything but one game and we don't look back," A's manager Bob Melvin said of the importance of where his team sits right now. "Last year we were five back with nine to play so you don't count anyone out until they are out."
Texas, heading in the opposite direction, was winless in all six games of its homestand, a feat in which it had not done in a homestand of six or more games in club history.
The Rangers (81-67) can attribute their struggles to not cashing in on opportunities to push runs across the plate. Texas hit 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base in Sunday's affair, a day after going 0-for-4 in a 1-0 loss Saturday.
"I'm not sure what is going on right now," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I've never witnessed this before. We had opportunities but we can't cash in on them. I expected us to respond better. The name of the game is to score runs and we didn't do that."
Texas stranded runners in scoring position in all but three innings of Sunday's contest. The Rangers put their final rally attempt together in the seventh with back-to-back singles with two outs. A.J. Pierzynski would squander the opportunity, popping out in the infield.
Tommy Milone (11-9) picked up the late nod to start the contest after Oakland's scheduled starter Jarrod Parker was scratched due to an undisclosed illness.
"If there is anyone you can throw into that role it would have been (Milone)," Melvin said. "He is a professional and prepares well. He was already ready to go when we gave him the nod."
Milone seized the opportunity to pitch through five innings, giving up an earned run, while striking out five.
"It kind of helped," Milone said of the pressure of getting a late notice to start," I didn't really have time to think about it much. By the time I officially heard it was just enough to get ready and go."
Dan Otero, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle combined to pitch three innings of scoreless ball in relief to push the A's to the ninth. Jesse Chavez would work the ninth, retiring the side.
The Athletics gave Milone a 2-0 advantage in the first inning after Jed Lowrie brought home Coco Crisp, despite grounding into a double play.
Josh Donaldson then extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games with a homer in the next at-bat.
"When you get any kind of lead you have a cushion and can go out there and throw strikes," Milone said. "It is big. It can really lift you up."
The Rangers put up the lone blemish on Milone's scorecard to counter the pair of runs by the A's in the first. Pierzynski provided the Rangers' third hit of the inning to score Elvis Andrus with two outs.
However, Oakland increased its lead to 3-1 on a two-out homer from Chris Young in the third, belting a ball over the left-center field wall.
Martin Perez (9-5) would allow just three base runners through the course of the next three innings, lasting until a walk in the seventh.
Perez pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits, three earned runs, two walks and struck out two. The loss was his second consecutive after winning six in a row previously.
Josh Reddick padded Oakland's lead in the ninth with a two-run homer.
NOTES: Texas lost its seventh straight at home, matching the longest home losing streak at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers lost its fifth consecutive series, a feat they had not done since 1998. Texas was held homerless for a sixth-straight game, the longest stretch since 1995. ... Oakland leads the majors with 55 home runs since Aug. 9.