Braden threw a four-hitter for his second career shutout, Daric Barton homered and the A's trimmed Texas' imposing lead in the AL West with a 5-0 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night.
Braden (9-9) improved to 5-7 since his perfect game against Tampa Bay on May 9, striking out one and issuing no walks in a 120-pitch outing. The left-hander allowed only one runner to reach third after the A's dropped the series opener 7-3 on Friday night.
"It's big as far as momentum is concerned," Braden said. "You don't want to feel like you have the wind knocked out of you in Game 1. It's big to come back and swing the bats well, play defense well. Obviously those two things are a huge part of any kind of push you want to make."
Texas was shut out for only the third time this season and first at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers still hold an 8 1/2-game edge over the second-place A's, the largest division lead in baseball.
"We had to win this one," Oakland catcher Landon Powell said. "We're trying to make a run at this thing and they're seven, eight games up. You can't afford to lose to them. You have to try to win every game you can against them to make up the most ground."
There are five games left in the season series, including Sunday, and the A's know they're in a tough spot.
"It was very important for a lot of reasons," manager Bob Geren said. "It was important for our pitchers to go deep in the game to save the bullpen. ... It was important to even the series and give us a chance to gain some ground tomorrow."
Oakland's Kurt Suzuki matched a career high with four hits. Barton was 2 for 3, reached base four times and scored a career-high four runs.
Josh Hamilton went 1 for 4 for Texas, dropping his major league-high batting average to .357.
Rich Harden (5-5) allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings after the former Athletics pitcher tossed 6 2/3 no-hit innings against Minnesota in his previous start Monday.
"It's frustrating," Harden said. "I didn't think I threw that bad. But there were a few pitches I missed."
Kevin Kouzmanoff hit an RBI single in the first and Barton lofted an 0-1 changeup into the right-field seats for a two-run homer in the third. That gave Barton an 11-game hitting streak, matching his career high.
Suzuki's bloop single in the fifth drove in Barton, who had doubled.
The Rangers started the night No. 2 in the AL with a .275 average, but they couldn't get much going against Braden.
"He kept us off the fat part of the bat all night," Washington said. "He had a good changeup, ran his cutter in there, spotted his fastball. He was good."
The Rangers put RHP Frank Francisco on the 15-day disabled list after he aggravated a right rib-cage injury during Friday night's game. An MRI revealed inflammation in a muscle in Francisco's side and he will be shut down until he shows improvement. ... Oakland LHP Brett Anderson experienced no swelling in his hyperextended right knee and is on schedule to start on Wednesday. Anderson was removed from Friday night's start prior to the third inning after his right foot landed in a hole on the mound in the second. Anderson fell awkwardly and the A's were concerned the injury might be serious. ... 2B Alex Cora went 1 for 3 in his first appearance for Texas. Cora signed a minor league contract with the Rangers on Aug. 18, a week after being released by the New York Mets, and was called up from Oklahoma City on Tuesday. ... Suzuki had his second four-hit game of the season, fifth of his career.