ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Semien homered twice among his four hits, Corey Seager went deep for the 30th time this season and the Texas Rangers won consecutive games for the first time in September, beating the last-place Oakland Athletics 9-4 on Sunday.
Andrew Heaney (10-6), the odd man out of the Rangers rotation with All-Star right-hander Nathan Eovaldi back from the injured list, struck out six over 3 2/3 scoreless innings after taking over for Jon Gray in the third. It was the first relief appearance for the left-hander after 27 starts this season.
Semien matched his career high with four hits for the second time in four games. He set a franchise record with his eighth leadoff homer this season, part of a three-run first inning off rookie right-hander Luis Medina (3-9). Semien hit another solo shot in the sixth and Seager homered on the next pitch to cap a four-run outburst that inning.
Semien, the only Rangers player to start all 142 games, leads the AL with 166 hits and 109 runs scored. He has 24 homers and 87 RBIs.
With 20 games remaining, the Rangers (78-64) stayed three games behind AL West-leading Houston (82-62), which swept them in three games in their previous series. They moved within .003 of division foe Seattle (79-64) for the American League’s third and final wild-card spot after the Mariners lost at Tampa Bay, and are 1 1/2 games behind Toronto (80-63) for the second spot.
The Rangers, who won for only the sixth time in their last 22 games, had a 3 1/2-game division lead before that slide. They open a four-game road series against the Blue Jays on Monday.
Tyler Soderstrom, one of six rookies in the A’s batting order, homered leading off the third inning. Gray was gone after giving up consecutive two-out walks and then back-to-back RBI singles by Seth Brown and Jordan Diaz that tied the game at 3. The go-ahead run scored on third baseman Josh Smith's fielding error.
Nathaniel Lowe put the Rangers ahead to stay with his two-out single in the fifth. An inning later, before Semien and Seager went back-to-back, Smith had an RBI triple and scored on rookie Evan Carter's sacrifice fly for his first career RBI.
After Lowe was hit by a pitch in the first, Mitch Garver doubled into the left-field corner and Robbie Grossman drove them both home with ground-rule double that bounced over the center-field wall for a 3-0 lead.
Gray allowed four runs (three earned) with three strikeouts and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. Medina, in his second start since coming off the injured list because of a blister on his index finger, gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked three.
Athletics: SS Kevin Smith remained in the game after getting hit by a pitch on his left hand in teh third inning.
Rangers: When Texas returns for its final homestand of the regular season, there is hope of having back two All-Star players. Manager Bruce Bochy said rookie 3B Josh Jung (left thumb fracture) is “doing everything, groundballs, swinging the bat.” Jung, who has missed 30 games since his injury, is scheduled to see a doctor Thursday and could be cleared then to face live pitching. Right fielder Garcia has a right patellar tendon (knee) strain and the earliest he could be activated is Sept. 18, when the next homestand begins. Bochy said Garcia said the issue seems “milder than we thought it was, but still some concern.” Garcia said team physician Dr. Keith Meister on Saturday.
Athletics: Open a three-gamer series Monday at AL West-leading Houston.
Rangers: After a 3-6 homestand, Texas plays 14 of its last 20 games on the road. Dane Dunning (9-6, 3.88 ERA) starts the series opener in Toronto.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb
Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press