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A's top Texas, add to AL West lead

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two teams trending in opposite directions continued their bearings on Saturday when the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 1-0 at Rangers Ballpark.

The A's (87-61) won for the seventh time in eight games, while Texas (81-66) fell for the fifth consecutive game and eighth time in its last nine.

Oakland increased its lead to 5 1/2 games in the American League West over its division rival Texas by taking the first two games of a three-game series that concludes Sunday.

"It's a good place to take two games from," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "We are just looking at them one at a time and have to come out here tomorrow and do the same."

The Rangers' offensive problems continued as the theme of a struggle that has seen Texas fall to 2-10 in September after completing August with a 20-7 record.

Texas left the tying run on base in the ninth inning of a 9-8 loss Friday and failed to come up with the needed hit on Saturday. Texas left eight runners on base and was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

"We just need a base hit," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I've been saying that now for two weeks. It just takes a base hit. We still have games left and need to come and play tomorrow. We have to go out there and get it done and we're just not getting it done right now."

The loss was the fourth 1-0 game for the Rangers this season. It also was the second time in a week and fourth time overall that Rangers starter Yu Darvish fell victim to the decision.

Darvish became just the third American League pitcher since 1916 to suffer 1-0 losses four times in a season -- the last was Chicago's Billy Pierce in 1955.

The Athletics capitalized on Darvish's weakness: He entered the game having allowed 16 first-inning runs.

That trend continued when he walked Josh Donaldson, who scored on Brandon Moss' drive into the right-field corner for a double.

Donaldson, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games with a single in the fifth, said the team has had a complete effort during its latest run and is setting itself up for success.

"Our offense, defense and pitching all came together today," Donaldson said. "Anytime you can do that you are giving yourself a chance to win. We have faced a lot of quality guys lately, and when you start beating them, it gives you the feeling that you can beat anybody."

Darvish settled in, striking out 10 batters for his league-leading 12th double-digit strikeout effort.

The right-hander struck out the side to end the first inning and came close again in the seventh before a line drive to right ended the inning.

Darvish finished with seven innings pitched, one walk and an earned run.

"When you are facing good pitchers, you have to get to them before they settle in," Melvin said. "It feels good to have beaten him when he seems to have his best stuff. We got to him today before he could settle in."

The run proved to be enough for Darvish's counterpart, Bartolo Colon.

Colon pitched the Athletics through eight innings with little threat to his shutout bid.

"When he's pitching well, the other guys around him feel that they don't have to do too much," Melvin said.

The Rangers put runners on second and third with two out in the fourth, but Colon extinguished the chance with a strikeout of Mitch Moreland.

The A's right-hander then saw Alex Rios reach third base with two out in the sixth after a single, steal and an advance to third on a fly out. Colon got Adrian Beltre to fly out to end the inning.

Colon gave way to closer Grant Balfour in the ninth after allowing seven hits, scattered over his eight innings.

Balfour earned his 38th save of the season by working around a two-out walk. Balfour has been successful in six of his last seven save opportunities.

NOTES: The 12:06 p.m. CST start was the earliest first pitch in Rangers Ballpark history. The franchise record for earliest first pitch is 12:03 p.m. on April 18, 1992 at Arlington Stadium. ... Elvis Andrus became the first Ranger with 40 stolen bases in a season since 1995, when Otis Nixon stole 50.
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