ARLINGTON, Texas -- Oakland A's manager Bob Melvin asked Bartolo Colon how he was doing after the sixth inning Monday night.
Colon answered, "How are you doing?"
That was all Melvin needed to hear, as he sent Colon back out for the seventh. Colon held the Texas Rangers in check, and Oakland earned a 9-2 win in the series opener at Rangers Ballpark.
"We kept through fighting at-bats the whole game, and Bartolo did his thing," Melvin said.
Oakland (24-22) still trails the Rangers (29-16) by 5 1/2 games in the American League West -- the largest division lead in baseball -- but the A's won their fourth game in a row. The three-game set resumes Tuesday night.
Colon worked seven innings, allowing two runs and six hits. The veteran righty improved to 4-2 on the season and 19-7 lifetime against Texas, Colon's highest win total against any team. He's also won six straight decisions at Rangers Ballpark.
"My whole career I've pitched well against Texas," Colon said through an interpreter. "I like pitching here. I don't know why, but I do. I want to pitch here, and I like to pitch here."
Colon said he was effective at mixing up his pitches and keeping Texas' hitters off balance. Rangers manager Ron Washington agreed.
"Same thing he always does," Washington said. "Slow cutter, sinker, slider. He just put it in the right spots. We couldn't sustain anything."
Coco Crisp, who finished the day 3-for-5, tortured Rangers starter Josh Lindblom, going 3-for-3 against him with two infield singles before the right-hander was pulled in the fifth. Texas pitchers were tagged for 15 hits and eight walks, and the eight earned runs matched the most allowed by the club this season.
After threatening in the first inning and leaving Crisp stranded at first, the A's got on the board in the second. Designated hitter Seth Smith led off the inning with an opposite-field solo shot to right off Lindblom.
Called up from Triple-A to make his first major league start, Lindblom found trouble in each of the first three innings. The 25-year-old worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third to keep the Rangers within a run.
The Rangers tied the game at 1-1 in the third on Jurickson Profar's RBI groundout. Geovany Soto walked to open the inning and advanced to third on Leonys Martin's double into the right-center field gap.
Colon limited the damage with an infield popup and strikeout to end the inning, leaving Martin at third.
Lindblom was touched up again in the fifth, as Crisp doubled to left to start things off. Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss followed with run-scoring doubles for a 3-1 A's lead.
Washington yanked Lindblom not long after, bringing in lefty reliever Joseph Ortiz with two outs and Moss at second. Seth Smith and Chris Young quickly delivered back-to-back singles to score two more runs for a 5-1 advantage.
The Rangers got their first two batters on to start the fifth. Colon nearly induced a fourth double-play out of Texas, but Martin beat the relay to first. Profar's sacrifice fly to center allowed Soto to score from third to cut Oakland's lead to 5-2.
Profar, called up from Triple-A on Sunday, impressed Washington with his poise at the plate.
"He handled his at-bats well tonight," Washington said. "We scored two runs, and he got both of them."
Oakland added three runs in the seventh on two hits and a walk. Eric Sogard and Crisp each had an RBI in the inning. Josh Donaldson tacked on a run with a ninth-inning single.
NOTES: The Rangers are 9-1-4 in multi-game series this season going into the three-game set with Oakland. The nine series wins are tied with Boston, Baltimore and St. Louis for the most in the majors. ... Oakland swept its three-game weekend series with Kansas with a trio of one-run wins. It marked just the fourth time in franchise history the A's swept a three-game series with one-run wins. ... Texas has an AL-best 58 home runs, tied with Colorado for the major league lead. ... Oakland came in leading the AL in walks (179) and hit by pitches (19). ... The Rangers have 38 players on the 40-man roster after designating RHP Derek Lowe for assignment. ... A moment of silence was observed before the game for the victims of the tornado that hit Moore, Okla., earlier in the day.