OAKLAND -- The Athletics, riding a big day from the bottom of their lineup, completed a three-game sweep of the Rangers with an 8-3 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum. The Rangers' loss, their fifth straight this season at the Coliseum, dropped them to three games behind the Twins in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Matt Olson and Matt Chapman (aka "Oly" and "Chappy" for Players Weekend, respectively), hitting seventh and eighth, gave the A's the lead with back-to-back home runs in the second inning off of Rangers starter A.J. Griffin (aka "Sweet Lettuce"), who lasted 3 ⅓ innings. Those two and catcher Bruce Maxwell, hitting ninth, combined to go 8-for-12 with five runs scored and three RBIs.
"I think a lot of us that have been playing together for a lot of years all have that bond with each other," Olson said. "We keep each other going if we're not feeling great and we feed off each other if one's going well. It's a good atmosphere to have."
Oakland right-hander Jharel Cotton (aka "Squeaky") earned his second straight win by holding the Rangers to two runs, one earned, in six innings. He allowed four hits, did not walk a batter and tied his career high with nine strikeouts. It's the first time in 20 starts that Cotton did not walk a batter.
"I think everything was working for me today; fastball, curveball, changeup," Cotton said. "I've just been going game by game, trying to get better. I've found how to get better and better myself, and I'm doing that right now. It feels really good. My confidence is definitely rising."
A's manager Bob Melvin added, "Those are the type of games we expect him to pitch, and after a rough period, he's starting to come around a little bit, and it's good to see."
Shin-Soo Choo (aka "Tokki 1" for Players Weekend) homered for the Rangers in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to a run, and Elvis Andrus (aka "Comando") had an RBI single in the eighth. Andrus' hit was Texas' only one with runners in scoring position on the day. They were 1-for-8 in the finale and 3-for-24 in the series with runners in scoring position.
"Not the series we wanted to play," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
• Rangers hope to forget weekend in Oakland
The game was 4-3 going into the bottom of the eighth, but second baseman Rougned Odor's throwing error on a potential inning-ending double play opened the way for four insurance runs, three unearned, for the Athletics.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cotton ends Rangers threat: Cotton tied his career high with nine strikeouts, and the biggest K came in the fourth. The Rangers had two on with one out when Cotton fell behind 3-1 to Odor. The young right-hander got the Rangers' free-swinging second baseman to swing and miss at two fastballs, the second of which was well outside the strike zone for what could have been a walk to load the bases.
"Those are situations, he's up there trying to drive in runs," Banister said. "We know when Odor is swinging the bat, he can do some damage, but obviously in that situation, a walk is as good as a hit unless you drive it out of the ballpark."
Chapman's crucial double play: With the bases loaded and one out in the 8th, Chapman saved the day for Oakland by turning an unassisted inning-ending double play at third base. After snaring a liner from Mike Napoli (aka "Porterhouse") that left the bat at 104 mph, Chapman raced to third and beat Andrus to the bag, ending the inning and adding another play to the rookie's lengthy defensive highlight reel.
"It's huge. It's either a double play or it's a ball in the corner and we don't have a lead anymore," Melvin said. "Quick reactions. He's ready for anything down there, whether it's on the ground or it's a play like that. In kind of a tense game, it really gave us a lot of momentum, because we were in a position where it's not favorable."
"It was weird. Usually I have trouble getting the ball down. Today I was trying to elevate my fastball and I couldn't keep it from going down and in their wheelhouse." -- Griffin, on his start against the A's
"We had a guy on the opposing team say that we're not supposed to beat them, so it was great to come out and show them that we can do that. Pretty fun weekend." -- Cotton, on sweeping the Rangers
A's infielder Jed Lowrie left Sunday's game after the fifth inning with a left shin contusion, which appeared to occur when he fouled a pitch off it in the fourth. He received treatment after exiting and will be evaluated Monday in Anaheim.
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez is schedule to start against the Astros in the first of a three-game series that was originally scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Houston. Both teams are waiting to see what happens with Hurricane Harvey and if the game needs to be rescheduled or relocated.
Athletics: Right-hander Daniel Gossett will make his second start since being recalled to the Majors against the Angels on Monday at 7:07 p.m. PT in Anaheim. Gossett gave up five runs in five innings but didn't get a decision Aug. 23 in Baltimore. The rookie had made 10 starts before being sent down Aug. 3.
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