Rangers win 9-7 over A's for split, 4-game lead

Associated Press Modified: September 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm •  Published: September 27, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ian Kinsler and the Texas Rangers moved closer to another AL West title with a split.

Now they can wrap up the division championship at home even before facing the chasing Athletics again next week in Oakland.

Kinsler hit a leadoff homer to start a five-run first inning, Matt Harrison got his 18th victory and the two-time defending American League champions held on for a 9-7 victory Thursday. By splitting the four-game series, the Rangers maintained their four-game lead over the second-place A's with six to play.

"Never doubted it," manager Ron Washington said of his team's response after losing consecutive games at home. "The worst we were looking for was a split. They can also play, and we got what we wanted."

Texas' magic number is three to clinch its third straight division crown, heading into a weekend series at home against the Los Angeles Angels. One win would lock up a playoff berth for the Rangers.

Oakland hosts last-place Seattle this weekend.

Kinsler's 19th homer was his major league-best seventh leadoff shot this season. The Rangers had four consecutive two-out hits, capped by Mike Napoli's two-run homer off Travis Blackley (5-4).

That came after the A's (88-68) had their own five-run first inning in a 9-3 win Wednesday night, after winning in 10 innings the night before that.

Texas (92-64) scored in each of the first four innings against three different pitchers, matching Oakland run-for-run in the second through the fourth until the A's hit three solo homers in the eighth off Mike Adams.

"We constantly kept the momentum in our favor, if you don't look at the three home runs in the eighth. We responded to them," Kinsler said. "We want to be a team that's tough to put away."

Josh Reddick homered twice for the A's, who wrapped up a 20-game stretch of six series in six cities and won 12 times. They finish the regular season at home, with a three-game weekend series against Seattle before hosting the Rangers starting Monday night.

"''We don't have any negative thoughts right now," Reddick said. "It's going to be good to go home. We've been on the road for a month. ... We can't rely on LA to lose and we can't rely on Texas to fall back. We know we're just not going to back down."

The A's, whose 51-26 record since the start of July is best in the majors, were two games ahead of the Angels.

Harrison (18-10) went six innings, allowing four runs and seven hits, to become the Rangers' first 18-game winner since Kenny Rogers in 2004.

The All-Star left-hander is scheduled to start once more in the regular season, with a chance for the most wins since Rick Helling's 20 in 1998.

Continue reading this story on the...