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Laureano hits 2 HRs as A's keep pace in race

Special to MLB.com

OAKLAND -- At some point in the near future A's manager Bob Melvin plans to drop Ramon Laureano down in the batting order. For now, Melvin likes the rookie in the leadoff spot.

It took two swings for Laureano to prove his skipper correct.

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OAKLAND -- At some point in the near future A's manager Bob Melvin plans to drop Ramon Laureano down in the batting order. For now, Melvin likes the rookie in the leadoff spot.

It took two swings for Laureano to prove his skipper correct.

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Laureano homered twice, including the first leadoff long ball of his career, Marcus Semien went deep and the A's finally won a game when bullpenning, beating the Rangers, 8-4, on Friday night at the Coliseum.

Laureano gets fist-bump from Henderson after leadoff homer

"For the couple games that we've put [Laureano] in there, he's taken it to another level," Melvin said. "He's swinging the bat really well. He hits one out to left, hits one out to right. He's on a roll right now. When guys are swinging well, we try to get them up there as far as we can."

Video: TEX@OAK: Melvin on Laureano, bullpen in 8-4 win

Matt Chapman had a two-run single and Jonathan Lucroy added two hits to help the A' s top the Rangers for the 11th time in 17 games this season. Semien reached base in all four of his plate appearances.

Video: TEX@OAK: Chapman plates a pair with single to center

Oakland extended its lead over Seattle to 6 1/2 games for the second American League Wild Card and remains 3 1/2 back of both Houston in the AL West and the Yankees for the top Wild Card.

Laureano hit his fourth homer on a 2-1 pitch from Texas starter Yovani Gallardo to lead off the bottom of the first. The A's rookie center fielder, who homered twice against the Rangers on Aug. 20, added his fifth on an 0-1 pitch from reliever Adrian Sampson leading off the sixth.

"I think it's just a coincidence," Laureano said. "I know kind of both those guys. I faced them before, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect."

Video: TEX@OAK: Laureano belts 441-ft. HR for 1st of night

It's the second consecutive game that Laureano hit in the leadoff spot. He also did it Wednesday and went 2-for-5.

"I think it's just another number in the lineup," he said. "It's the same approach. My routine is a little different getting ready for the first pitch, just body-wise for that first pitch."

Semien hit his 12th this season as part of Oakland's four-run second inning and it came one pitch after Gallardo hit Stephen Piscotty. Semien has also hit leadoff for the A's this season and likes the jolt that Laureano provides from that spot.

"He's doing really well using the whole field," Semien said. "He's got a short swing so he can hit a lot of fastballs with good velocity."

Video: TEX@OAK: Semien drills a 2-run homer to left field

Chapman's two-run single later in the inning plated Chad Pinder and Lucroy. The A's broke the game open with three runs in the sixth. Matt Olson and Piscotty hit consecutive RBI singles as Oakland pushed its lead to 8-1.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A's starter Liam Hendriks got off to a rocky start after walking leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo on five pitches then falling behind 3-1 to No. 2 hitter Rougned Odor. Hendriks came back to retire Odor on a swinging strikeout then escaped the jam by getting Elvis Andrus Nomar Mazara to ground out.

Video: TEX@OAK: Hendriks fans Odor swinging in the 1st

BULLPEN GAME 
Hendriks made his third start in seven days, but it was the work of Chris Bassitt and winning pitcher Yusmeiro Petit that kept the A's rolling.

Bassitt, called up from Triple-A Nashville before the game, replaced Hendriks in the second and worked three innings while allowing three hits, including Joey Gallo's 35th home run of the season in. Petit (7-3) pitched two scoreless innings while working through the heart of the Rangers' order.

Oakland used seven pitchers.

SOUND SMART
Laureano became the first player in A's franchise history to have two multi-homer games within the first 30 games of his career, doing it in 29. To put that in perspective, it took Jose Canseco 42 games and Mark McGwire 43 games to reach that milestone.

"It's pretty cool," Laureano said. "All those accolades, I will reflect on in the offseason. I just want to keep moving forward."

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Texas first baseman Ronald Guzman just missed a home run in the seventh with a drive off the top of the wall in right field off of Fernando Rodney. Guzman had to settle for an RBI double. The umpires initiated a crew-chief review but the call was confirmed by replay. 

Video: TEX@OAK: Guzman clubs an RBI double off top of wall 

UP NEXT Right-hander Edwin Jackson (5-3, 2.91 ERA) faces the Rangers for the third time this season after struggling in the first two. Jackson allowed nine runs over 8 2/3 innings over the previous two starts against Texas. Overall, Jackson has the fourth-lowest ERA in the AL since signing with Oakland on June 25. Left-hander Yohander Mendez (1-1, 5.59 ERA) will start for the Rangers.

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Oakland Athletics, Liam Hendriks