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Surging A's deal Rangers critical WC blow

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OAKLAND -- Right-hander Raul Alcantara had to make an unexpected start for the A's on Saturday night, and his work along with four relievers dealt another serious blow to the Rangers' postseason hopes. They combined on a four-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory that dropped the Rangers to 4 1/2 games behind the Twins in the race for the second Wild Card spot.

The Rangers, now two games under .500, are four back in the loss column but they only have eight games left to play. That includes one more in the Coliseum on Sunday against the Athletics, who have won their last six games and 13 of their last 16 games.

Full Game Coverage

OAKLAND -- Right-hander Raul Alcantara had to make an unexpected start for the A's on Saturday night, and his work along with four relievers dealt another serious blow to the Rangers' postseason hopes. They combined on a four-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory that dropped the Rangers to 4 1/2 games behind the Twins in the race for the second Wild Card spot.

The Rangers, now two games under .500, are four back in the loss column but they only have eight games left to play. That includes one more in the Coliseum on Sunday against the Athletics, who have won their last six games and 13 of their last 16 games.

Full Game Coverage

"We've got to win games," Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele said. "It's simple. We know where we are at. Every game matters."

AL Wild Card standings

Khris Davis produced the only run for the Athletics with his 40th home run of the season coming off Rangers starter Miguel Gonzalez in the second inning. Gonzalez took the loss for the Rangers despite allowing four hits, walking none and striking out five.

"They pitched better than we did," Gonzalez said. "You have to keep grinding. The mindset is the same. You've got to make pitches. It just didn't work out tonight."

Video: TEX@OAK: Alcantara hurls for 5 Ks in five frames

Alcantara was called upon after starter Sean Manaea was scratched with upper back stiffness. It was only his third start for the A's and second since being called up from Triple-A in September, with his last also being a spot start on Monday in Detroit.

This time, Alcantara allowed just two singles and two walks while striking out five in five innings. Relievers Ryan Dull, Daniel Coulombe, Chris Hatcher and Blake Treinen finished up the Athletics' sixth shutout of the season.

Video: TEX@OAK: A's bullpen fuels shutout win over Rangers`

"I was just kind of going into it as a reliever," Alcantara said through team interpreter Juan Dorado. "Pitch inning-to-inning and not worry so much about the start."

A's manager Bob Melvin added, "I thought he was great again. This time, he had a little bit more time to get ready. He looks like a different guy, and I think a lot of it had to do with how well he pitched last time."

The Rangers had just one baserunner in scoring position. That was in the fifth inning when Alcantara gave up a single to Robinson Chirinos and a walk to Rougned Odor. But he got Drew Robinson on a grounder to second baseman Jed Lowrie to end the inning.

"It's got to be something about this stadium for sure," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We tried tonight and it didn't happen.There is no tomorrow. Everybody in this room knows that. Nothing didn't click. We didn't create any opportunities. Another one to turn away and get ready for tomorrow."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Davis slays Rangers: Davis' home run came on a first-pitch fastball leading off the second inning. It was his 15th home run over the past two seasons against the Rangers, the most by any player against one team in that time. He is the first Athletics player to have back-to-back 40 home run seasons since Jimmie Foxx in 1932-34. More >>

Mazara hustle saves play: After the A's Ryon Healy singled with one out in the fourth, Matt Chapman ripped a line drive to right field. Nomar Mazara tried for a diving catch and couldn't hold on to the ball. But he recovered quickly and made a strong throw to second to get a force on Healy.

Video: TEX@OAK: Mazara makes a clever play for the out

QUOTABLE
"I think the bullpen was probably good for him, even though we're working to get his pitch count up. The command of his fastball was better, and it looked to me like his split and slider were better, and he's pitching with a lot more confidence. It's good to see." -- Melvin, on Alcantara

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Odor had two walks in the game for the Rangers. It's only the fifth time in 538 career games that he has had two walks in a game.

WHAT'S NEXT
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches against the Athletics at 3:05 p.m. CT on Sunday in the final game of the three-game series. Perez is 7-1 with a 3.14 ERA in his last nine starts. He is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in two starts against the Athletics this year.

Athletics: Right-hander Jharel Cotton, who was scratched from his last start because of a strained groin suffered during pregame warmups, returns to the mound Sunday for a 1:05 p.m. PT start against the Rangers to close out this three-game series. Cotton is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts against Texas this season.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.