What it means: The Rangers kept pace with the Angels and the Yankees, who both won. The Rangers remain 5 ½ games ahead of the Angels in the AL West, meaning no matter what happens they will be in first place when they finish their series this weekend in Anaheim. The Rangers remain one game behind the Yankees in the race for the best record in the American League.
Oswalt’s game: Oswalt had little trouble with an A’s team that had hit nine homers and scored 24 runs in its previous three games. Through six innings, Oswalt had allowed just two hits, both to Yoenis Cespedes. In the seventh, he gave up a solo homer to Josh Reddick. He then struck out Cespedes before manager Ron Washington turned the game over to the bullpen.
Oswalt left after 103 pitches, including 72 strikes. He did not walk a batter for the first time in his five starts with the Rangers. He struck out six.
Gentry’s wheels: Craig Gentry made some big contributions with his speed in the first few innings. He saved a run in the bottom of the second when he raced in and made a diving catch of a Kurt Suzuki blooper. He followed that in the top of the third by bunting for a hit when he beat pitcher Bartolo Colon to the bag. Colon then made an errant pickoff throw. As the ball shot into the vast foul territory in Oakland, Gentry went all the way to third. He scored on Elvis Andrus’ single. In the fourth, he was called on to execute a suicide squeeze and he beat the play at first for a hit.
Beltre swings a hot bat: Adrian Beltre homered in the fourth inning, a solo shot that put the Rangers up 2-0. Beltre is hitting .394 over his last 27 games.
Hamilton snaps out briefly: Josh Hamilton struck out in his first three at-bats, running his slump to 2-for-26. In his fourth trip, against left-hander Jordan Norberto, Hamilton launched a homer to left field. It was Hamilton’s 28th homer of the season, tying Adam Dunn for the league lead. He added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Ogando returns: Alexi Ogando, fresh off the disabled list, got into the game in the seventh inning with a three-run lead and a runner at first. Ogando, who had been out with a groin injury, walked the first batter he faced but then he got Suzuki and Brandon Inge on pop-ups to escape the jam.
Finally hitting Colon: The Rangers scored four runs against Colon, which was a welcome change. They managed just five hits and no runs in eight innings against Colon when they faced him in Oakland last month. Colon came into the game 18-6 with a 3.61 ERA against Texas, although most of those numbers were racked up when Colon was younger before he missed a couple years with shoulder problems.
Oops: Michael Young failed to score from third on a ground ball to second in the fourth, apparently a bad decision or a bad read on the ball. It didn't hurt the Rangers because Mike Napoli followed with an RBI single.