OAKLAND -- Franklin Barreto knows his reward for a big game is almost certain to be a trip back to the bench. Such is life for one of the A's top young infielders, who made a pair of big plays in Oakland's 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday at the Coliseum, completing a sweep.
Barreto hit a two-out RBI single to spark a five-run fourth inning after nearly homering in his first at-bat. The athletic second baseman also made a key defensive play earlier in the game to stem a potential big inning from the Rangers.
Not a bad day of work for a player who has rarely played since getting called up for the sixth time this year when rosters expanded on Sept. 1.
"I don't think patience was something I had at the beginning of the year," Barreto said through a translator. "It was something I kind of developed during the middle of the year, where I started to adjust my swing, started making adjustments with my stance, where I'd be able to see the ball and eliminate swinging at some of those bad pitches that I was swinging at before."
The victory, combined with the Astros losing to the Red Sox on Sunday night, moved Oakland 2 1/2 games back of Houston in the American League West with 18 games left in the regular season.
Barreto got his chance Sunday while making a rare start in place of All-Star second baseman Jed Lowrie and showed with his bat and his glove why he's considered one of the A's most promising young players.
With the Rangers taking advantage of starter Trevor Cahill's control problems and leading, 1-0, in the first with two on and one out, the A's got a break when Rougned Odor was caught in a rundown between first and second on the back end of a double-steal attempt. Barreto quickly ran toward first and applied the tag as Odor dove back toward the bag.
"I'm thankful that Barreto's got some wheels to run Odor down for the out," catcher Josh Phegley said. "That was their opportunity to jump out to a quick lead, and the fact that we got out of there with just one run, that just wasn't going to be enough to keep us down."
Barreto said he had no choice but to chase Odor after first baseman Matt Olson had run toward second before throwing to Barreto.
"It's a very difficult play," Barreto said. "Olson threw me the ball and then I realized that there was no one on first, so I had to chase him down."
Barreto then came up big at the plate in the fourth. His two-out RBI single off Ariel Jurado drove in Oakland's first run and was the catalyst for a five-run outburst that turned the game around.
Stephen Piscotty hit his career-high 23rd home run and Olson added two hits to help Oakland to its fourth consecutive victory. Shawn Kelley (1-0) earned the win, throwing 1 1/3 innings in relief of Cahill.
"You get these contributions from so many guys," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's pretty cool when everybody in that clubhouse is contributing to it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Rangers got two quick hits off A's reliever Lou Trivino with two outs in the seventh and had the go-ahead run at the plate. Trivino, who has already worked 63 games this season (7th most in Oakland history), escaped by getting Shin-Soo Choo to strike out swinging on a 98.2-mph fastball.
A's starter Cahill walked six batters in 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander had only issued 13 walks in his previous nine starts at the Coliseum, covering 55 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs and struck out one in the outing.
HE SAID IT
"We know we want to take the division. That's where our goals are set, because that seems to be the easiest path to the World Series. But whatever happens, happens. We can't really control that now with Houston anymore." -- Piscotty
• MLB standings
Right-hander Mike Fiers (11-6, 3.36 ERA) tries to remain unbeaten in his Oakland tenure when the A's travel to play Baltimore at Camden Yards on Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. PT. Fiers is 4-0 with a 2.94 ERA in six starts since being acquired from the Detroit Tigers, although he lost to the Orioles earlier this season.