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Kendall's RBI hit in the eighth lifts Athletics

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jason Kendall is playing in his first
pennant race after nine years of losing in Pittsburgh. Despite a
playoff-starved career and months of frustration with his
production at the plate, Kendall keeps contributing big hits.

The Oakland Athletics considered this about as must-win as they
get, and their first-year catcher came through.

Kendall hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and the
A's rallied from a three-run deficit for a 7-6 victory over the
Texas Rangers on Saturday.

With the A's struggling to remain in playoff contention, they
pulled out a crucial victory by coming back after trailing 5-2.

"I'm having the time of my life," said Kendall, whose Pirates
teams never had a record above .500 after Sept. 1. "We're still
having fun. We've got to win."

After Jay Payton led off the eighth with a double down the
left-field line, Dan Johnson followed with a tying RBI double off
the wall in right. Hiram Bocachica entered as a pinch-runner, John
Wasdin (2-2) intentionally walked Mark Ellis and Kendall's drive
got past shortstop Michael Young, allowing Bocachica to score the
go-ahead run.

"The guys know what's at stake, and they're playing with
urgency," A's manager Ken Macha said.

Eric Chavez added an RBI single in the inning for his third hit
of the day to go with his seventh-inning sacrifice fly.

Oakland remained four games behind the AL West-leading Los
Angeles Angels, who beat Tampa Bay 7-3. The Angels play four games
at the A's next week.

"It's a good win today, not a must-win but pretty darn
important," designated hitter Scott Hatteberg said. "The little
things are something we've really got to do consistently."

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer and a two-run double for
Texas. He connected for the second straight day, sending his
career-best 43rd homer over the left-field wall in the first
inning.

The home run was the 257th of the year for the Rangers, matching
the 1996 Baltimore Orioles for the second-best total in major
league history, seven behind the 1997 Seattle Mariners.

Teixeira has nine homers in September and 31 RBI this month,
the most in the majors and a franchise record.

Young extended his career-best hitting streak to 21 games with
an infield single in the third, hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the
fifth and also singled in a run in the ninth.

He is more concerned with helping Texas end the season on a
strong note.

"I'm really trying not to think about it," Young said. "I've
been doing the best I can to just focus on finishing out the
schedule for the right reasons, and that's to try to help the team
win as many games."

Barry Zito allowed baserunners in every inning but the fourth
and was done after six innings. Justin Duchscherer (7-4) pitched
the eighth with a sore back, and Huston Street finished for his
22nd save in 26 chances.

Zito struck out five and walked two, allowing five runs and
seven hits.

The A's are trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the second
straight season after a stretch of four straight postseason berths
from 2000-2003. Oakland went 7-20 in May with two eight-game losing
streaks before bouncing back with another of the club's second-half
surges to make things interesting.

"We're going out there fighting," said Johnson, Oakland's
rookie first baseman. "Every game is huge for us right now. We're
not going to quit until the last out is made. ... That's the kind
of guys we've got on this team."

Rangers starter R.A. Dickey pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two
earned runs and four hits. He walked a career-high five batters.

Oakland loaded the bases against C.J. Wilson in the seventh,
with Chavez's sacrifice fly pulling the A's to 5-4.

Gary Matthews Jr. also added two hits and scored a run for
Texas, which won Friday's series opener 3-1.

Game notes
A's RHP Rich Harden could pitch out of the bullpen as soon
as Sunday. Harden reported normal soreness in his throwing shoulder
a day after pitching a simulated game to test a strained muscle
beneath the shoulder. Harden, sidelined since Aug. 19 with the
injury, played some light catch in the outfield before Saturday's
game. "It feels like I went out and threw yesterday," he said.
"It's sore around all those muscles around the area, but not in
that spot. That's a good sign. It shows I'm getting stronger." He
is scheduled to throw again Sunday. ... Matthews stole his eighth
base of the year in the seventh. ... Teixeira has driven in at
least one run in 12 of his last 17 games. ... Chavez recorded his
422nd extra-base hit, tying him with Jason Giambi and Sal Bando for
fifth place in Oakland history.