OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Texas Rangers are running out of time to avoid missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
Rookie Matt Olson hit his sixth home run in seven games, a second-inning drive off Nick Martinez that helped the Athletics beat Texas 4-1 on Friday night and damage the Rangers’ playoff hopes.
“We haven’t been able to play good baseball here in Oakland,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “But we’ve got to a scratch that out and stay positive. Tomorrow is a big game for us.”
Texas, which had won four straight, dropped 3½ games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card. The Rangers are tied with the Los Angeles Angels.
Shin-Soo Choo hit his 21st home run for Texas in the third but the Rangers were blanked the rest of the way and lost at Oakland for the sixth time in seven games this season.
“At the end of the day tomorrow, we could quite possibly be back to 2½ games back,” Banister said.
Martinez (3-7) allowed four runs — three earned — and five hits in six innings. He is winless in six starts and four relief appearances since June 25.
Kendall Graveman (6-4) gave up one run, six hits and three walks in seven innings as Oakland won its fifth straight, and Blake Treinen retired three batters for his 10th save. The A’s were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the evening.
“The changeup was really good tonight so we used it,” Graveman said. “That’s been a pitch that in the last six weeks has kind of come into play, and I’m just trying to make it better each time I go through a bullpen and each time I have an outing.”
Texas went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. The Rangers stranded a runner at third base in the second, left two on in the fourth and failed to score after loading the bases with two outs in the sixth. Choo ended the game by striking out with runners at second and third.
Third baseman Drew Robinson’s fielding error led to an unearned run in the third.
OLSON’S ROOKIE TEAR
Olson homered following a leadoff walk to Khris Davis, his 13th home run in September and his 16th in his last 23 games.
“I’m feeling pretty good up there,” Olson said. “Finding myself swinging too hard sometimes, but continuing to still feel good.”
Rangers: Adrian Beltre is moving better and manager Jeff Banister hasn’t ruled out the slugger returning to third base before the end of the regular season. Beltre spent time on the 10-day DL this month with a left hamstring strain.
Athletics: RHP Jharel Cotton threw a bullpen session and is scheduled to start Sunday. Cotton missed his last turn because of a groin strain. ... C Bruce Maxwell is undergoing concussion protocol. He did some light running before the game. ... OF Boog Powell’s knee injury has been diagnosed as a bone bruise.
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (8-11, 4.75 ERA) is to start for Texas on Saturday in his fourth appearance for the Rangers since he was acquired from the Chicago. Gonzalez has allowed 12 earned runs over 10 1/3 innings. LHP Sean Manaea (11-10, 4.56 ERA) is slated to pitch for Oakland. with Texas.
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