OAKLAND -- The Athletics are a last-place team, but they are not playing like it lately. They dealt a blow to the Rangers' hopes of catching the Twins in the American League Wild Card race with a 4-1 victory on Friday night.
Matt Olson hit his 16th home run in the last 23 games and Kendall Graveman held the Rangers to one run in seven innings to help lift the Athletics to their 12th win in 15 games. They have won their last six games against the Rangers in the Coliseum.
"Coming out, Kendall having the start he did, and being able to come up with enough runs to manufacture a win, it's just kind of how we've been rolling here, lately, pitching and hitting well," Olson said. "We're playing really good baseball right now. While we might be out of it, we're still out here playing. We have something to take into next year."
The loss snapped the Rangers' four-game winning streak on a night when the Twins won and the Angels lost. The Rangers remain tied with the Angels, but both teams are 3 1/2 games back -- three in the loss column -- of the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot.
"Just a situation where we didn't capitalize on our opportunities and they did," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We gave some freebies away, with a walk and an error, and they were able to capitalize. Olson with a two-run home run and [Jed] Lowrie with a soft single into center field. Just a situation where we let some opportunities slip away."
The Rangers' only run came on Shin-Soo Choo's third-inning home run off Graveman, who is 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA in his last eight starts The Rangers were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"We had some opportunities and we didn't come through," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We were a hit away from getting back in the game. As an offense, it didn't happen."
Rangers starter Nick Martinez allowed four runs, three earned, in six innings. He is 0-4 with a 6.80 ERA in his last six starts and four relief appearances since his last Major League win on June 25.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Olson rips again: Olson fouled off a couple of 1-2 pitches before hitting a 1-2 fastball over the right-field wall for a two-run home run. It was his 24th home run, but only the eighth with two strikes on him. He was a .167 hitter with a .361 slugging percentage in two-strike situations going into the game.
"To say it's a surprise anymore I'd be lying, because you have a good feeling any time he's up there," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's amazing, it really is. He's consistent in everything he does. He's at a point now where he has a good feeling every time he goes to the plate, and when he elevates one, he's got the type of power where, he gets it in the air it's going to be a homer."
Odor ends rally: Graveman pitched around Carlos Gomez with runners on second and third with two outs in the sixth. Gomez drew a walk to load the bases, bringing Rougned Odor to the plate. Graveman struck him out on three pitches. Odor reacted by throwing his bat and helmet. He was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. He has six hits in his last 38 at-bats in those situations.
"I thought it was a good pitch ... maybe at the wrong time." -- Martinez, on the pitch to Olson
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez pitches against the Athletics at 8:05 p.m. CT Saturday at the Coliseum. Gonzalez is making his fourth start for the Rangers since being acquired from the White Sox. He allowed one run in five innings in a 4-2 victory over the Angels in his last start.
Athletics: Left-hander Sean Manaea will be on the mound against the Rangers at 6:05 p.m. PT on Saturday. Manaea is 3-2 with a 4.44 ERA in his last five starts, including a win over the Rangers on Aug. 26, in which he allowed two runs in five innings.