OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Adrian Beltre and Michael Young have one number in mind, and it has nothing to do with their own impressive hit or home run totals.
The Texas Rangers dropped their magic number to clinch the AL West to four.
“That’s the most important number of the day,” Young said.
Beltre hit a three-run homer in the first that held up for 15-game winner Derek Holland, and the division-leading Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Tuesday night.
Texas maintained its five-game division lead over Los Angeles after the Angels won 10-6 at Toronto.
“That’s what we’re working for. We’re trying to win every day and give the Angels no chance to do something crazy,” Beltre said.
Young hit an RBI single in the third that gave him 200 hits in a season for the sixth time and drove in another run in the eighth for his career-best 104th RBI, Mike Napoli also singled in a run and Texas won for the seventh time in eight games and eighth in 10.
This Texas bunch is committed to making another deep October postseason run after losing the World Series to San Francisco in five games last fall.
Rookie Michael Taylor hit his first major league home run in the fifth — his 18th career at-bat — for Oakland’s lone run against Holland (15-5), who won his fourth straight decision.
Elvis Andrus singled in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 13 games for Texas, which moved to 24 games over .500 for its best mark since sitting 31 over in 1999. Reigning AL champion Texas is 12-5 in September.
Young topped his 2006 RBI total of 103. The 200 hits are always special, too.
“I want to find ways to be a run producer,” Young said. “It feels good. I know I’ve been healthy and I know I’ve been consistent. I’ve gotten to a point now where I know what it takes to get there. … I’m happy it’s over with now and I can focus on the last eight games of the regular season.”
Texas is 90-65 for its second-best record in franchise history through 154 games. The ’99 team was 91-63 at this stage.
“The fact that they got on us early and got us in a little bit of a defensive mode, it can get you on your heels a little bit,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I think we’re all tired of getting beat by Texas.”
And the Rangers won this one by beating a familiar face.
Rich Harden (4-4) lost consecutive starts for the first time this year, done after a season-low three innings in which he was tagged for six runs — five earned — on seven hits, struck out three and walked one.
Harden, who pitched for Texas last season, is winless in five straight outings since beating the Blue Jays on Aug. 19.
Beltre drove a 1-1 pitch over the center-field wall with two outs in the first as Texas immediately jumped ahead on an uncharacteristically warm night in the Bay Area. First-pitch temperature was 74 degrees.
The slugger had batted just 2 for 16 against Harden before connecting for his 28th home run of 2011. It was Beltre’s 20th career homer against Oakland and seventh in as many games. The last eight have come off seven different pitchers.
“Their approach up there, they don’t swing at a lot of bad pitches and they work the count a lot, too,” Harden said.
A wild pitch in the second allowed Nelson Cruz to score after he doubled leading off the inning.
Texas scored twice more in the third to make it 6-0 and chase Harden, whose start was his shortest since the Rangers knocked him out after only 2 1-3 innings on Aug. 7, 2010.
Holland allowed one run and two hits over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked three while earning his second win in three starts against Oakland this season.
Coco Crisp homered in the ninth for the A’s against Michael Kirkman.
Texas came out swinging a night after Rangers manager Ron Washington attended the “Moneyball” premiere and reminisced about his special days as Oakland’s third base coach.
Washington is eager for his team to wrap up the division.
“You talk about determination, we’ve been determined since February,” Washington said. “Each and every day we’ve got to go out and play until they say we’ve got a spot in the playoffs. … When we got defeated by San Francisco, we were determined to come back and try again.”
Cruz remained in the designated hitter role while he nurses a strained left hamstring.
Washington said Cruz would likely DH again Wednesday night and then the manager would decide whether to use him in the outfield as soon as Thursday’s series finale with the A’s or wait until back home in Texas.
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