A’s beat Rangers to take grip on AL West


ARLINGTON, Texas — Oakland strengthened its grip on the American League West title by beating nearest rival Texas 1-0 on Saturday, led by Bartolo Colon who pitched eight scoreless innings as the Athletics moved 5-1/2 games clear of the Rangers.

With the two teams having only 14 and 15 games respectively to play in the regular season, the A’s won the crucial series and appeared bound for the AL West title.

A wild card place looks the most the Rangers can hope for now, but they may miss out there too, as they are locked on the same 81-66 record as the other current wild-card holder Tampa Bay but only 1-1/2 games above nearest challenger Cleveland, and with the New York Yankees, Baltimore and Kansas City close behind.

Boston remained 8-1/2 games clear atop the AL East after beating the archrival Yankees for the fifth time in six games in just over a week.

Tampa Bay had a shutout win over Minnesota to move three games clear of the Yankees. Baltimore, which lost at Toronto, and Kansas City, which scored the only run of the game against Detroit, are both half a game behind New York.

In the National League Central, Pittsburgh and St. Louis are once again tied at the top after the Pirates edged the Chicago Cubs and the Cardinals lost to Seattle. Cincinnati beat Milwaukee to remain 2-1/2 games behind the top pair.

Oakland’s Colon (16-6) struck out seven and lowered what is already his career-best ERA to 2.73.

Rangers starter Yu Darvish (12-9) struck out 10 over seven innings. The Japanese has lost his past four starts, the last two by 1-0 scores, and is winless in his past six.

Even though Darvish struck out the side in the first, Josh Donaldson drew a one-out walk and scored on a two-out double by Brandon Moss.

Boston’s Jon Lester pitched eight dominant innings to steer the Red Sox to a 5-1 win over New York. Lester (14-8) allowed one run, striking out five.

Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino each had two hits as the surging Red Sox won for the 16th time in 19 games.

Kansas City held on for a 1-0 win over AL Central-leading Detroit by throwing out Prince Fielder at home plate to end the game.

Fielder walked to open the ninth. The Tigers’ burly first baseman then tried to score from first on Omar Infante’s two-out double but Alex Gordon made a strong throw from the left field corner to shortstop Alcides Escobar, who relayed perfectly to catcher Salvador Perez, who tagged a sliding Fielder to end it.

Royals’ starter Ervin Santana (9-9) won for the first time in six weeks.

The defeat sliced Detroit’s lead in the Central to five games over Cleveland, which beat the Chicago White Sox 8-1.

Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9) allowed one run in 8-1/3 innings, striking out eight, to win his third straight start.

Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run homer and Lonnie Chisenhall added a three-run shot in a five-run fourth inning that powered the Indians to their 11th straight win against Chicago.