ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Oakland A's lost a starting pitcher and a left fielder Sunday but they bolstered their postseason hopes by completing a sweep of Texas with a 5-1 win in Rangers Ballpark.
With starting pitcher Jarrod Parker and cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes both scratched from the original lineup, the A's turned to left-hander Tommy Milone, who won what was his first major league start in almost three weeks.
Parker was sick and Cespedes was sidelined by lingering shoulder pain.
Milone had only thrown one inning of relief since being brought back from the minor leagues on Sept. 3. He threw five innings against the Rangers, allowing one run to help the A's complete the three-game sweep and improve to 16-4 in their last 20 games.
Texas, which began September with a two-game lead in the A.L. West, has now lost 12 of its last 15, including going 1-5 against Oakland. The Rangers trail the A's by 6 1/2 games with 13 games left for Oakland and 14 for Texas. That reduces the A's magic number for winning the West to eight, meaning any combination of A's wins and Rangers losses totaling eight would make Oakland (88-61) the A.L. West winner over the Rangers (81-67) for the second year in a row.
Four of the A's runs came on homers, two on solo blasts from Josh Donaldson and Chris Young early and a two-run bomb from Josh Reddick late. The homers are one measure of the A's dominance in the series. Oakland hit six, the Rangers none.
For the 16th time in the last 20 games the A's scored first, this time getting two runs in the first inning. Coco Crisp and Young backed up singles, and when Jed Lowrie followed with a double play grounder, Crisp scored against Texas lefty Martin Perez.
That brought up Donaldson, who was batting cleanup because Cespedes was scratched with the sore right shoulder that has been bugging him for a week or so.
Donaldson reacted well to the position switch, launching his 23rd homer on a line to left-center for a 2-0 lead.
Milone was touched for three first-inning hits and gave back one of the runs on a two-out single by A.J. Pierzynski.
But things got better for Milone, who was making his first start for the A's since Aug. 27. He settled into a groove after pitching out of a two-on jam in the second, retiring six in a row at one point and five straight later while keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard through the fifth.
Dan Otero came out of the A's bullpen to start the sixth inning, and he, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Jesse Chavez closed the door, perhaps, on Texas' season.
The A's added a run in the third inning on a solo homer by Young, his 12th of the season. He's getting more and more playing time of late with the A's seeing an abundance of left-handed pitching, and that should continue this week with the Angels bringing two lefties in to face the A's on Monday (C.J. Wilson) and Wednesday (Jason Vargas).
--The original starting lineup had Cespedes batting fourth and Parker pitching. But Cespedes has some lingering pain in his right shoulder from making a dive on defense on the last homestand, and he was scratched about an hour before the game. Parker, who hasn't lost since May and has nine consecutive wins, held out until about 30 minutes before first pitch. But he was vomiting before the game and was pulled in favor of Milone.
--Yu Darvish got the A's ticked off a little in the sixth inning Saturday when, with Donaldson in the batter's box, he yelled "fastball" and then threw a curve. Donaldson was hardly surprised. He picked out the curve and drove a single to center. The A's third baseman said that Darvish has done the same thing before and that it didn't bother him. It bothered some of his teammates, however. Coco Crisp had to be restrained a little by his teammates when he started yelling at Darvish from the dugout. Afterward, Crisp said "it's something that's not for the media."
--Left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson, who had to come out of Friday's game with back spasms, seems to be recovering. Melvin said Anderson could be ready to pitch out of the bullpen by the start of the homestand Monday against the Angels.
--Catcher John Jaso, who has been out since the end of July with concussion problems, is finally starting to feel better. Still, there's not timetable for his return. He's almost certainly not going to be able to come back and play this year, because even if he was feeling 100 percent and the doctors cleared him, he'd need the equivalent of a short spring training to get ready, and that's not happening.
"He is starting to feel better," Melvin said. "But I haven't heard anything that suggests a timeline."
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