Rangers-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

After the Texas Rangers beat Oakland on June 30 to win the first three games of their series, the Athletics have seemed determined to turn their season around.

Now the A's are out to prove they're legitimate playoff contenders.

Oakland seeks to improve to 10-1 this month while Bartolo Colon looks to continue his dominance of visiting Texas in the opener of a two-game set Tuesday night.

The A's defeated the Rangers 3-1 to salvage the final game of their four-game series July 1, beginning a streak of nine wins over 10 games to become a part of a crowded AL wild-card race.

Yoenis Cespedes had a career-high four hits, drove in three runs and hit a solo homer as Oakland (46-43) defeated Minnesota 9-4 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Cespedes went 8 for 14 with two homers and six RBIs in the series for the A's, who will host the AL East-leading Yankees for four games following the brief visit from Texas.

"We have some tough teams coming in, no doubt," manager Bob Melvin told the team's official website. "You look at the standings, and both (Texas and New York) are at the top of their divisions. We definitely have our work cut out for us, but we feel good about the way we're playing at this point."

Colon (6-7, 3.80 ERA) will look to help keep Oakland rolling.

The right-hander's 18 wins over Texas are his most versus any team. He allowed five hits in eight innings of a 2-0 win over the Rangers on June 6, improving to 13-1 with a 2.98 ERA in his last 15 starts against them.

Colon, who is 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA in his last five starts overall, allowed one run in 8 2-3 innings of a 2-1, 13-inning win over Seattle on July 8.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said facing Colon and the A's won't be an easy task.

"They're playing good baseball," Washington said. "They always could pitch. Right now they're in a groove swinging the bat and putting up some runs. They'll be around. Bob Melvin is doing a good job."

AL West-leading Texas (54-35) has been playing solid baseball as well, winning four of five after a season-worst five-game skid. Adrian Beltre went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs in a 4-0 win in Seattle on Sunday.

Beltre is hitting .364 over his last eight games, but the Mariners intentionally walked the struggling Josh Hamilton - batting .087 over his last seven - prior to Beltre's fourth-inning RBI single.

"It fires me up because I want that challenge," Beltre said.

Hamilton homered and drove in six runs in the last series versus the A's, and he said he's been the victim of some bad luck lately.

"Honestly I feel really good at the plate," Hamilton said. "Even before the All-Star game and at the All-Star game I had good at-bats, hitting the ball hard and hitting it right at people."

Roy Oswalt had a bounce-back outing his last time out, and he'll look to build on that effort Tuesday.

Oswalt (2-1, 6.26) gave up one run in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-3, 13-inning win over Minnesota on July 8 - five days after allowing a career-high 11 runs in a 19-2 loss to the White Sox.

The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts versus the A's, though he hasn't faced them since 2007.

Washington is optimistic reliever Alexi Ogando (strained groin) and catcher Mike Napoli (bruised right knee) can return Tuesday.

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