Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers
- The A's enter this weekend series leading the Rangers by 3.5 games in the AL West. Texas leads the season series 9-7, but the clubs have split their last six meetings.
- Oakland has scored 26 runs on 33 hits over its last two games (2-0). Since the franchise moved to Oakland in 1968, the most runs the A's have scored in a three-game span is 44 (June 17-19, 2000).
- The Rangers have won 10 of their last 13 home games against AL West opponents, averaging 6.8 runs per game (89/13) in these 13 contests.
- Dan Straily has won his last three starts, allowing just three runs (all earned) in 18.0 innings pitched (1.50 ERA) during this streak. He is trying to become the third different A's pitcher this season to win four or more consecutive starts (Bartolo Colon (8), May 20-June 28) and A.J. Griffin (4; active streak), August 26-September 12).
- Yoenis Cespedes has had at least one RBI in each of his last six games, including two RBI in Thursday's victory over the Minnesota Twins. The last A's player to have 1+ RBI in seven (or more) straight games in a single season was Frank Thomas (7 games), September 4-11, 2006.
- Derek Holland is winless in his last six starts, and is coming off an outing against the Angels on September 7 in which he allowed eight runs (four earned) in just 5.2 innings of work. This is tied for his longest streak of consecutive starts without a win in his career (done twice before).
- Torre, La Russa, Cox elected to Hall
- MLB denied A's request for San Jose move
- Schilling replaces Hershiser on SNB
- Qualls back with Astros for 2 years, $6M
- Mujica, Red Sox finalize $9.5M deal
By JONAH ROSENBLUM
(AP) -- The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers have met 17 times this season.
They have yet to pair their two best pitchers until Saturday, when Bartolo Colon and Yu Darvish will square off as the Athletics try to continue pulling away in the AL West.
With its 9-8 victory over Texas on Friday night, Oakland (86-61) took a 4 1/2-game advantage in the division, while the Rangers' lead in the wild-card standings grew more tenuous. Texas leads Tampa Bay by one game for the top spot and Cleveland by 2 1/2 games.
The Athletics hit three homers Friday, giving them 20 in September - good for third in the majors.
The Rangers (81-65) nearly mustered an impressive comeback from a 9-2 deficit but still lost their fourth straight.
"We're fired up and to have that rally killed like that, it's disappointing," said outfielder Alex Rios, who was controversially called out at third on a single by Adrian Beltre to cut short a six-run eighth.
Colon and Darvish have both struggled to pick up wins of late. On Aug. 12, Colon was tied for second in the major leagues with 14 wins while Darvish was tied for ninth with 12. In the month-plus since, the two pitchers have combined for a single win.
Darvish (12-8, 2.84 ERA) is winless in five starts and has lost three straight for the first time in his career. He held Pittsburgh to a run and four hits in seven innings of a 1-0 loss Monday. It marked the sixth straight start in which the right-hander received two runs or fewer of support.
"He really threw the ball well," manager Ron Washington said. "He moved the ball around well. He kept it down in the zone."
Colon (15-6, 2.85) was able to do what Darvish wishes to do, snapping a five-start winless streak Sunday with a 7-2 victory over Houston in which he allowed one run and struck out seven in six innings.
After surrendering a single and an RBI double to the first two batters, he was virtually untouchable after.
"I feel like I have more power than the last (few) outings," Colon said.
The game will feature a distinct clash of styles as baseball's premiere strikeout artist faces one of its best control pitchers.
Though he still leads the major leagues handily with 246, Darvish has struck out 7.50 batters per nine innings over his last two starts after averaging 13.78 over his previous seven.
Colon has pitched to contact, and his 4.97 strikeouts per nine innings are the second-lowest total in the major leagues.
Colon also has the second-lowest ratio of walks per nine innings in the AL at 1.37, while Darvish's 3.23 per nine innings ranks among the 20 highest in the majors.
No team has given Darvish more headaches than the Athletics.
Oakland is responsible for five of his 17 career losses and reached him for five runs and a season-high six walks in five innings of an 11-4 victory Sept. 4.
Brandon Moss has homered off Darvish in each of his last two starts against the Athletics and hit his 27th home run Friday.
Darvish, who went 32 2-3 innings without giving up a home run earlier this season, has allowed 24 since April 30, the fifth-worst total in baseball.
Colon's 19 wins against Texas are his most against any team, but he's 2-3 with a 4.29 ERA versus the Rangers since 2009. He lost to Texas on Sept. 3, yielding four runs - one earned - in five innings.
Mitch Moreland has slumped for Texas, going 0 for 18 with 11 strikeouts, but he has homered twice in 12 at-bats against Colon.
Updated September 14, 2013