A's drop two of three in Texas; Angels next

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Reality has set in for the Oakland
Athletics after all their hard work to rebound from an awful start
and make another run at the AL West title: They must sweep four
games from the Angels to avoid missing the playoffs for the second
straight season.

"The door's still open," third baseman Eric Chavez said.
"It's a little crack, but it's open."

Rod Barajas hit a three-run homer and Michael Young extended his
career-best hitting streak to 22 games with an RBI double, leading
the Texas Rangers past the stumbling A's 6-2 on Sunday night.

Dan Johnson hit a two-run homer in the second, but Oakland
failed to gain ground on AL West-leading Los Angeles. The A's
remained four games behind the Angels, who lost 8-4 at home to
Tampa Bay.

The Angels come to the Coliseum for a crucial four-game series
starting Monday night, and Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia is
already leaning toward using ace Bartolo Colon on three days' rest
for Thursday's series finale against Barry Zito.

"It's going to be disappointing if we don't win it because we
battled all this way," said Chavez, whose team overcame a 7-20 May
that featured two eight-game losing streaks. "I don't know if
people thought we could win it, but we thought we could win it.
Obviously, this is a miracle we're going to have to be going for
right now."

Juan Dominguez pitched 7 1-3 strong innings for Texas, which
took two of three from the A's after being swept in Anaheim
following a five-game winning streak.

Barajas hit a high shot into the bleachers in left-center with
one out in the fourth, his 21st of the season. That gave Texas a
4-2 lead. Young's double three batters later made it 5-2, and Texas
held that lead after blowing a three-run cushion in Saturday's 7-6

"Whenever you play teams fighting for the playoffs, good
quality teams, you want to try to win series, and we were able to
do that here," Barajas said.

Oakland loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth against
closer Francisco Cordero, but Mark Kotsay grounded out. Twice he
left the bases loaded.

"I left a small army," Kotsay said.

All the missed opportunities mean the A's must be near perfect
in their last seven games.

"You're still breathing if you take three of four [from the
Angels], but you need big help then," manager Ken Macha said.
"Tomorrow, we're going to shoot all our bullets to win that game.
Then you worry about the next day."

The Rangers have 258 home runs, passing the 1996 Baltimore
Orioles for the second-best total in major league history, six
behind the 1997 Seattle Mariners.

A's right-hander Rich Harden, sidelined since Aug. 19 with a
strained muscle beneath his throwing shoulder, pitched a scoreless
eighth, two days after a subpar simulated game in which he didn't
use his changeup. He pitched out of the windup Sunday, and while
his velocity was slightly down, the A's hope he will be able pitch
out of the bullpen again during the series with the Angels.

"He looked great," assistant general manager David Forst said.

Harden, determined to help any way he can, felt so good he wants
to start in the final week, though Macha said it wouldn't happen.
He has Joe Kennedy penciled in for Tuesday.

"It's something I would love to do, but I don't know if they'll
let it happen," Harden said.

Young matched the third-longest hitting streak in club history
with his double against Kirk Saarloos (10-8). Saarloos allowed five
runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings, struck out three and walked
three, throwing 91 pitches a week after beating Boston 12-3 at
Fenway Park.

Gary Matthews Jr. had an RBI single in the third and Alfonso
Soriano doubled in a run in the ninth.

Dominguez (4-5) didn't walk a batter and earned his second
victory in September after a three-start winless stretch, including
a 9-8 loss to the A's at home on Sept. 9.

After Johnson's homer in the second, Dominguez retired the next
eight batters he faced before a fifth-inning jam. Oakland loaded
the bases, but Dominguez struck out Kotsay with a nasty changeup to
escape the threat.

Oakland had runners at first and third with none out in the
eighth but couldn't capitalize.

Johnson, one of several rookies making huge contributions for
the A's, connected for his 15th home run with two outs in the
second. He doubled in the fifth.

The Rangers got five hits from the bottom two spots in the
batting order -- two from Barajas and three from Jason Botts to
match his career high.

Game notes
Harden made the third relief appearance of his career and
first since Sept. 28, 2003, vs. Seattle. ... Texas OF David
Dellucci missed his fifth straight game with a strained left calf
muscle, but manager Buck Showalter expects him to play Tuesday at
Seattle. ... Rangers OF Kevin Mench got most of the day off to rest
his sore thumb, entering in the eighth as a defensive replacement.
... The A's raised $141,740 during their seventh annual Breast
Cancer Awareness Day.