Oakland, CA (Sports Network) - Holding the outright AL West lead for the past
176 days, the Texas Rangers finally have some company.
Derek Norris hit a go-ahead RBI single as part of a two-run fifth inning and
the Oakland Athletics downed Texas, 3-1, in the middle test of the regular
season-ending three-game set and forge a tie for first place heading into the
final day of the regular season.
Jonny Gomes smacked a solo homer for Oakland, which clinched a postseason
berth with a victory over the Rangers on Monday.
Oakland, which trailed Texas by 13 games in the division on June 30, has gone
an MLB-best 56-26 since, while the Rangers have tallied a 43-39 mark.
The A's, who are atop the AL West standings for the first time since March 29,
can take the division in a winner-take-all showdown against the Rangers on
Wednesday. Oakland shared first place with the Mariners at 1-1 after it beat
Seattle in Tokyo.
Travis Blackley (6-4) fanned five and surrendered a run on three hits and two
walks over six innings to notch the victory.
Matt Harrison (18-11) struck out five, but allowed three runs on six hits and
a walk over six frames for Texas, which has held the outright AL West lead
since Apr. 9 when it was 3-1.
With Oakland trailing 1-0 entering the home fifth, Josh Donaldson singled to
center field and Brandon Moss hooked a double down the right-field line to put
runners on second and third with none away.
Norris then ripped a single to right, which plated Donaldson and Moss for a
2-1 A's advantage.
Gomes cracked a two-out solo shot into the left-field seats in the sixth to
make it 3-1.
Ryan Webb worked around a leadoff single to keep it a 3-1 game in the eighth
and Grant Balfour fired a 1-2-3 ninth and notched his 24th save of the year.
Earlier, Josh Hamilton ripped a two-out RBI double into the right-center field
gap to get Texas on the board in the third.
Only four teams in MLB history have come back from a deficit of 13-or-more
games to win a pennant or division title: the 1914 Boston Braves (15 back on
July 4), the 1978 New York Yankees (14 back on July 18), the 1951 New York
Giants (13 back on Aug. 10) and the 1995 Seattle Mariners (13 back on Aug. 1).
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