After thwarting a late-game rally in the series opener, the Oakland Athletics look to strengthen their bid to repeat as American League West champions on Saturday when they continue their three-game set with the host Texas Rangers. Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson homered and drove in three runs apiece as Oakland nearly squandered a seven-run lead before holding on for a 9-8 triumph. The Athletics have won 14 of their last 18 to seize a 4 1/2-game advantage over the reeling Rangers.
Adrian Beltre continued to swing a hot bat, collecting three hits on Friday to improve to 7-for-16 with two RBIs in his last four games. Beltre's hitting display aside, Texas has dropped nine of 11 in September to watch Oakland ascend atop the division. The Rangers still lead the wild card discussion with a one-game edge over Tampa Bay and 2 1/2-game lead over Cleveland.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, FOX
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics RH Bartolo Colon (15-6, 2.85 ERA) vs. Rangers RH Yu Darvish (12-8, 2.84)
Colon snapped a three-game losing skid and posted his first victory since July 26 when he allowed one run and struck out seven in six innings against Houston on Sunday. The 40-year-old Dominican fell to 19-8 in his career against the Rangers after yielding four runs on eight hits in five innings of a 5-1 setback on Sept. 3. Colon has permitted just one earned run in four of his last six trips to the mound.
Darvish dropped his third straight start and ran his winless stretch to five outings after suffering a hard-luck setback to Pittsburgh on Monday. The 27-year-old permitted just one run on four hits in seven innings before exiting with cramping in his right leg. Darvish fell to 0-3 this season and 1-5 in his career versus Oakland after yielding five runs and matching a career high with six walks in five innings en route to an 11-4 setback on Sept. 4.
1. Donaldson belted his 22nd homer to extend his career-best hitting streak to nine games. He is 16-for-35 with three homers, 10 RBIs and 10 runs scored during the stretch.
2. Texas SS Elvis Andrus has recorded multi-hit performances in five of his last seven contests. He is just 1-for-6 against Colon, however.
3. Cespedes, who is riding an eight-game hitting streak, has collected 12 RBIs in his last seven contests. He is just 1-for-7 versus Darvish, however.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Athletics 2