OAKLAND -- Nick Swisher doesn't care to know how well he hits against Kevin Millwood. It's because of how well he hits him, though, that the Oakland Athletics were able to pull out a 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night and maintain some distance from them in the American League West standings. Here's all you need to know about Swisher: With division title hopes fading quickly, and the Wild Card chase more like a crawl, there's still something that motivates him and his teammates. "No one wants to finish last," Swisher said after collecting two hits, including a two-run home run in the third that gave the A's a 4-1 lead.
And all Swisher was thinking about was moving Daric Barton over to third after his leadoff double. "I looked over at the bench and I wanted to bunt at the first pitch," Swisher said. "After that, I was fortunate enough to get a good pitch to hit. I knew it was going to be deep enough to at least move him over to third." Ruddy Lugo, who struggled in two previous stints with the A's, slammed the door on the Rangers after they rallied for four runs in the seventh inning. He entered the game with the potential-tying run on second, with no outs. "If you want to be a prime time player, you want to be in those tight situations," Lugo said. "I was just trying to get outs and give us a chance to win." Lugo pitched two scoreless innings as he became the setup man, with Alan Embree and Andrew Brown unavailable to pitch. Lugo produced an unbecoming 21.00 ERA in his first two stints with the A's. But since his return from Triple-A Sacramento on Aug. 4, he's had a resurgence and owns a 2.13 ERA over his 16 appearances since. "He did a real nice job," A's manager Bob Geren said. "A runner on second and no outs, and he left him stranded. Then, he came back out in the eighth and did it again. You can't ask anything better than that. He even showed some emotion, and I like that." Lugo pumped his fist after a double play ended the eighth. "I'm an emotional guy," he said. "I don't really like showing it to the other team, but that was a big play and I let it out." It all amounted to a victory for Chad Gaudin (11-11), who gave up three runs on eight hits over six-plus innings and finally beat the Rangers. He'd lost his last three starts against Texas, and five of his last 14 appearances have also been losses at the hands of the Rangers. The righty hasn't lost more than twice to any other team. "I just made some good pitches and attacked the zone," said Gaudin, who had allowed 12 runs over his previous 8 2/3 innings. "I didn't fall behind too much. I was just laboring a little bit, but I made pitches at certain times and that's the name of the game." Gaudin struck out eight and walked two in snapping a personal two-game losing streak, and a three-game home skid. "Chad took us as deep as he could," Geren said. "He did a very nice job." Jack Cust ended an 0-for-13 streak with his two-run double in the first inning, giving the A's the early lead. He was 3-for-33 with one RBI in nine games in September before Thursday. "He has a tendency to strike out, and a tendency to get into streaks," Geren said. "He's been known to have a lot of home runs, walks and strikeouts. He'll have streaks of all those. There's nothing to worry about." Barton collected two more hits as the A's won their fourth home game in five tries. They've won three of four overall as they maintain hopes of reaching the .500 mark or better for the season. Barton has three multi-hit games in the four he's played since making his Major League debut on Monday in Seattle. He helped the A's avoid official elimination from the AL West Division race. Any combination of two Los Angeles Angels victories or a pair of A's losses would end title contention. Jack Hannahan had two hits, including a run-scoring double, and Marco Scutaro drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to help the A's open a two-game cushion over the Rangers. Jason Botts' home run to lead off the second cut into the A's lead, but Swisher's 20th home run, a two-run blast, gave the A's a 4-1 lead in the third. Scutaro and Hannahan drove in runs in the fifth to end Millwood's night and give the A's a 6-1 advantage. The Rangers scored four times in the seventh to make things interesting, and gave Lugo a chance to star in prime time. As for Swisher, suffice it to say he's got good numbers against Millwood, and you can look it up. The Rangers scored four times in the seventh to make things interesting, before the A's bullpen held Texas scoreless over the last two frames to hold on for the win.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.