Mulder is winless in four starts

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- For a club that hasn't tasted much
meaningful September baseball in five years, the Texas Rangers are
showing a big appetite for the playoff chase.

Mark Teixeira hit a three-run homer off Mark Mulder, and the
Rangers kept creeping back into the playoff chase with a 10-3
victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.

Hank Blalock homered and drove in his 100th run with a two-run
double, and Alfonso Soriano also homered and drove in two runs for
the Rangers, who have won two of three in their key four-game
series against the struggling division leaders.

With extra security officers seated near the Texas bullpen after
Monday's chair-throwing brouhaha, the Rangers won for the fifth
time in six games. Not even reliever Frank Francisco's arrest and
legal problems have derailed Texas' last-ditch push for the

"This club is doing some impressive things," manager Buck
Showalter said. "We've got 17 games left, and we'll continue to
play in a way so we can make every next game mean more."

The Rangers' playoff hopes seemed dead last week, but they moved
within four games of the A's, who remained two games ahead of
second-place Anaheim after Seattle's 1-0 victory over the Angels.
Texas hasn't made the postseason since 1999.

Teixeira's 36th homer in the sixth inning was the decisive blow
against Mulder, who failed in his fourth attempt to get his 18th

"Now's not the time to feel sorry for yourself," Mulder said.
"We just have to keep going out there."

Francisco did the same, hours after making his initial court
appearance on a charge of felony aggravated assault. He was booed
loudly by the Coliseum crowd when he walked alone to the bullpen
midway through the seventh inning.

A few moments later, several policemen descended into the stands
above the bullpen to speak to someone in the crowd. The Texas
relievers all stood and watched, but no fans were seen escorted

Francisco was booed again when he warmed up while the Rangers
batted in the ninth. Showalter never intended to put Francisco in
the game.

"He had to get some work," the manager said. "He hadn't
thrown in a couple of days. All things considered, I think he's
handled himself well. He understands there's some things he's going
to have to go through, and tonight was one of those things."

Francisco politely declined comment after the game.

The Oakland fans had better control than Mulder (17-5), who
allowed 11 hits and a season-high eight runs to waste an early

After pitching splendidly through early August, Mulder has
regressed in recent weeks. His walk totals and pitch counts are way
up, and he's winless in a season-worst four starts, probably
scuttling his chances for his first Cy Young Award.

"I left several pitches over the plate," Mulder said.
"However, it was the best I've felt in a month or so."

He never retired the side in order against Texas, walking two
and even making an error on Kevin Mench's squib to the mound in the
sixth. He was pulled after yielding three straight hits to lead off
the seventh, including Blalock's double into the left-field corner.

"The first five innings, we had the Mulder back that we saw in
the first half of the season," manager Ken Macha said. "He's told
us all along he's fine."

Their ace's struggles are just one of the A's problems. Oakland
was the AL's dominant team in Septembers past, but the A's have
lost seven of 10 to endanger their fifth straight trip to the

Ryan Drese (13-8), an Oakland native and Cal graduate pitching
in front of family and friends, allowed nine hits and three walks
over six innings.

"It's a lot of fun," Drese said. "I've got a lot of family
and friends in the stands, but that's secondary. The biggest thing
is that we got a win."

The Rangers' potent lineup gave Drese a big cushion, scoring
three runs apiece in the sixth and seventh innings. Blalock added
his career-best 30th homer in the ninth.

Texas has scored 28 runs in three games in Oakland -- and it
doesn't get any better for the A's, who must face Kenny Rogers in
the series finale Thursday. The former Oakland pitcher has won 18
straight decisions at the Coliseum.

After Oakland stranded five runners in the first two innings,
Erubiel Durazo gave the A's a 2-1 lead with a two-run single.

But Soriano tied it in the fourth, blasting his 28th homer into
the concrete high above the fence in center. Soriano, who's batting
over .400 against Mulder, hit two homers in Texas' loss Monday
night, then had three hits Tuesday night.

Game notes
Texas LHP Brian Shouse struck out the side in the seventh.
... Billy McMillon started in left field, and Nick Swisher moved
from left to right to give Eric Byrnes a day off. Macha believes
Byrnes has fallen into a 2-for-16 slump because he's pressing to
get his 20th homer.