Josh Donaldson, Chris Young and Josh Reddick all homered and the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics completed a three-game sweep of the chasing and slumping Texas Rangers with a 5-1 win Sunday.
Oakland took a commanding 6 1/2-game division lead with two weeks left after the final regular-season series between the AL West’s top two teams. The A’s have won five in a row and 13 of 16 overall.
Texas lost its sixth in a row, all at home and never leading in any of them, and is 2-11 in September after beginning the month with a two-game lead. Coupled with a sweep by Pittsburgh, this was the Rangers’ first winless homestand of at least six games since moving to Texas in 1972.
The Rangers and Tampa Bay are tied for the two AL wild-card spots in a rapidly tightening race. Cleveland, Baltimore, the Yankees and Kansas City are all within 3 1/2 games of Texas and the Rays.
Texas starts a four-game series at Tropicana Field on Monday.
Fill-in starter Tommy Milone (11-9) struck out five and allowed only one run over five solid innings. The A’s announced less than hour before the game that Jarrod Parker was scratched because of illness.
Oakland finished a 5-1 trip and opens its final homestand of the regular season Monday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Coco Crisp and Chris Young had consecutive singles off Martin Perez (9-5) to start the game.
Crisp scored on a nifty double play, when second baseman Ian Kinsler went up the middle and without touching the ball with his hand scooped it with his glove to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who made a barehanded grab and relay throw.
Donaldson extended his hitting streak to 11 games with his 23rd homer for a 2-0 lead. Young hit a two-out solo homer in the third, Reddick hit a two-run homer in the ninth.
Perez, a rookie left-hander, allowed three runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings.
After the A’s scored in the first for the third straight game in the series, Texas got a run back in the bottom half on an RBI single by A.J. Pierzynski.
Pierzynski had an infield popout to end the seventh with two runners on base. That was the third time in four innings the Rangers stranded two runners, including Kinsler taking a called third strike to end the fourth.
Milone was 0-4 with a 5.67 ERA his previous five career starts against the Rangers. The left-hander lost twice to them earlier this season, allowing 17 hits and 12 runs over nine innings.
NOTES: Parker is 9-0 in his last 19 starts since a loss at Texas on May 22, the longest winning streak by an Oakland pitcher since Dan Haren won 10 in a row in 2008. The last Athletics pitcher with a longer unbeaten streak was Lefty Grove’s 21 starts in a row without a loss in 1931. … Yoenis Cespedes was batting fourth as the DH in the original A’s lineup, but didn’t play because of right shoulder soreness. … The Rangers are 39-35 at home, where they will end their regular season against Houston and the Angels. … The Rangers have gone six games without a home run, their longest drought since six in 1995. It is the first time they’ve gone six consecutive games at Rangers Ballpark without homering. The stadium is in its 20th season.