ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Beltre singled home the winning run in the ninth inning and the Texas Rangers rallied past Oakland, 5-4, on Monday night to stretch their American League West lead over the Athletics to five games with nine to play.
Beltre, whose 35th homer tied the score in the seventh, grounded a sharp single through the middle of the infield off Tyson Ross (2-11) in the ninth, bringing home pinch-runner Craig Gentry to end the opener of a four-game series.
The Rangers got the inning started with consecutive singles by Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler before Elvis Andrus’ sacrifice bunt. Josh Hamilton, who had already hit his major league-best 43rd homer after missing the previous five games with a cornea issue, was intentionally walked to load the bases for Beltre.
Joe Nathan (3-4), the sixth Rangers pitcher, struck out two in the ninth. That included a strikeout of Seth Smith and a throw-out of Stephen Drew trying to steal to end the inning.
It was the first of seven meetings in the last 10 days of the regular season between the two-time defending American League champion Rangers and Athletics, who have lost six of seven after winning 17 of their previous 21 games.
Oakland has a two-game lead over the idle Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild- card berth.
Beltre hit a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh to tie the game at 4, a shot that came with Hamilton on base.
Athletics rookie right-hander Dan Straily struck out eight and left with a 4-2 lead after 62/3 innings with Hamilton due to bat and the bases empty.
Dean Blevins walked Hamilton, the only batter he faced, before Pat Neshek gave up the two-run drive to Beltre.
Hamilton hit a 441-foot solo homer in the fifth that landed in the second deck of seats high above the Rangers’ bullpen to cut Texas’ deficit to 3-2.
Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes homered for Oakland, and Cliff Pennington had an RBI single in the sixth.
Derek Holland pitched three innings for the Rangers, his shortest outing since May 30.