OAKLAND -- On a day when Khris Davis clubbed his Major League-leading 41st home run, the A's designated hitter was overshadowed by an even bigger swing from Matt Olson in Oakland's 8-6 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday at the Coliseum.
Olson came off the bench as a defensive replacement and hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the eighth inning, one of three long balls by the A's.
It came after the first baseman initially attempted to bunt against the shift. Once Texas third baseman Jurickson Profar moved back toward the bag, Olson changed his strategy and hit an opposite-field home run.
"If you watch him take BP right now, that's kind of where his strength is," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's got as much pull power as anybody in the American League, but there are times you have to make an adjustment, and he has recently. He's a clear thinker. That's kind of where his path is right now."
The A's remain 3 1/2 games behind Houston in the AL West. Oakland has a 7 1/2-game lead on Seattle for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Olson wasn't in the starting lineup as Melvin hoped to give his big first baseman a day off. Those plans changed when Olson came in to replace Mark Canha at first base in the seventh.
It became more pivotal after Adrian Beltre hit his second home run of the day, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, to erase Oakland's 6-4 lead.
"I want to be in the lineup every day. Everybody in this room does," Olson said.
Davis entered the game in a 7-for-54 funk and had only one homer in his previous 14 games before connecting on a 3-2 pitch off Texas starter Yohander Mendez, after Jed Lowrie drew a two-out walk in the first inning. It was Davis' 10th home run against the Rangers this season and his 27th career blast off Texas pitching.
"One big swing a lot of times does it," Melvin said. "There are a lot of guys through our lineup that can hit home runs. When you're in close games like that, sometimes a home run is an important one. There were a couple today."
Ryan Buchter (4-0), who replaced Fernando Rodney after Beltre's home run in the eighth, retired one batter and was the beneficiary of Olson's homer. Blake Treinen pitched the ninth for his 37th save.
The A's trailed, 4-2, with two outs in the fifth when Lowrie hit a game-tying double off reliever Martin Perez.
Texas came back and tied it in the top of the eighth on Beltre's second home run of the game -- this one off the slumping Rodney -- before Olson's solo shot leading off the eighth.
"We're resilient, we don't really give up on anything," Olson said. "If we get a lead and give it up or if it's a tie game, everybody wants the opportunity to put us ahead and it's just worked out that way."
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The Rangers had runners at second and third with no outs in the fifth when Elvis Andrus hit a short chopper in front of home plate. A's pitcher Cory Gearrin pounced on the ball but his throw to first hit Andrus and bounced away as Shin-Soo Choo scored. Home-plate umpire Gabe Morales ruled Andrus had run inside the first-base line, however, and was ruled out while the runners were sent back. Gearrin then got Nomar Mazara to ground out before Beltre flew out.
A's right-hander Liam Hendriks had quite a busy eight-day stretch with three starts and a relief appearance. Hendriks, who has been the team's designated starter in bullpen games, tossed one scoreless inning against the Rangers on Saturday.
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A's rookie center fielder Ramon Laureano added to his growing list of defensive gems when he crashed into the wall while chasing down Beltre's deep fly ball to end the third. Laureano got a good jump on the play and tracked the ball before leaping in the air and hitting the fence as he made the catch.
"Wouldn't surprise you if the wall tipped over, as hard as he plays and as hard as he goes after it," Melvin said. "That's a big play."
Right-hander Trevor Cahill (6-3, 3.60 ERA) faces the Rangers for the third time this season in the series finale Sunday. Cahill is 1-0 with a 7.20 in the two previous starts against Texas, but he has been brilliant at home, going 5-0 in nine outings at the Coliseum. The Rangers counter with left-hander Jeffrey Springs (0-0, 2.29), who will serve as an "opener" in a bullpen game.