OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics were 13 games behind the Rangers on June 30. They are now tied atop the American League West with one game to play after defeating the Rangers 3-1. They A's are speeding toward the playoffs like they just stole something. At 93-68 they are a season-high 25 games over .500. If they can sweep the Rangers on Wednesday, the raucous celebration on Monday will look like a tea party. Starting Pitching ReportLast Thursday Travis Blackley got rocked by the Rangers for five runs and was pulled before the second inning. He came out on Tuesday and retired the top of Texas' order three up, three down, and finished the frame by striking out Josh Hamilton. Getting off to a strong start was paramount for the Australian-born starting pitcher. More important was how Blackley would face adversity. He gave up a leadoff double in the second inning and pitched his way out of trouble. The Rangers ended up stranding two runners as Blackley threw a big 12-6 curveball for a called third strike. Hamilton tagged Blackley for a run in the third inning with a double into the right-center gap to score Ian Kinsler, who drew a one-out walk. The A's might have had a shot at gunning down Kinsler but Josh Reddick slightly overthrew Stephen Drew, who ended up dropping the relay throw. Blackley faced the minimum for the next three innings as the A's turned two double plays behind him. He ended the night with six innings pitched and just one earned run on three hits, two walks and struck out five. Blackley stepped up his game when the A's needed him the most. Maybe shaving his beard really did make a difference. He earned his sixth win of the season. The A's kept their faith in Blackley even amid questions about if the team would try and skip him in the rotation after two very rough starts, in which he allowed nine runs in three innings. At the PlateThe A's were getting one-hit by Matt Harrison through four innings. They broke out in the fifth. Josh Donaldson doubled the A's hit total with a leadoff single. He moved to third when Brandon Moss smacked a double down the right field line. Derek Norris then cracked an RBI single to right field that was bobbled by Cruz, allowing Moss to score and giving the A's a 2-1 lead. Yoenis Cespedes reached on a one-out single in the sixth inning but got picked off. Had he been on base the A's would have had an extra run, because Jonny Gomes launched a ball into the left field bleachers moments later to give the A's a 3-1 lead. Gomes' 18th homer came on the day he was voted the Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award-winner.
Bullpen Report Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook took care of business in the seventh and eighth innings. They allowed one hit apiece but no runs. Grant Balfour entered the game for the fourth time in as many days. He retired the side in order for his 24th save. In the FieldJosh Donaldson had a rough day at the office. He made a couple high throws that Brandon Moss had to leap to catch. Then in the fourth inning he missed a ground ball hit directly to him as it took a funny hop. Blackley immediately picked up Donaldson by inducing a double play ball. Reddick dropped a foul fly ball in the corner in right field. He got a glove on it but couldn't make the catch. Blackley picked him up by striking out Elvis Andrus.Cliff Pennington made a slick backhanded play and throw to rob Hamilton of a hit to start the ninth inning. He has really taken to second base. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 30,660. There was an estimated walk-up of 12,000. Looks like the bandwagon is starting to swing back around these parts. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race. The A's wore gold jerseys. Coincidence? I think not. Up NextThe A's will have a chance to win the American League West and celebrate like madmen with a win on Wednesday. It will be the final game of the regular season. A.J. Griffin (7-1, 2.71 ERA) will take the mound for his 15th start. Griffin is 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA in four starts against the American League West. Ryan Dempster (7-3, 4.64 ERA) will oppose Griffin. Dempster is 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in his last eight starts.