OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss hit consecutive home runs in the third inning, A.J. Griffin matched his season high with eight strikeouts and the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 5-1 on Monday night.
It was Texas’ first trip to Oakland since being swept in the final three games of the 2012 regular season and coughing up the AL West title to the surprising A’s.
Griffin (4-3) went seven innings and didn’t walk a batter for the first time this season, earning his second victory in six outings since he won back-to-back appearances to start the year.
Mitch Moreland homered to give the Rangers the lead in the second, then Eric Sogard and John Jaso hit RBI singles for the A’s in the bottom half.
Griffin faced either the minimum or one more batter in each of his final five innings, helped by a pair of double plays. He improved to 3-0 in four starts against division opponents.
The right-hander got a scare when he ducked out of the way of Adrian Beltre’s sharp single up the middle leading off the seventh, and the pitcher patted his hand on his pounding heart once back on his feet. Sean Doolittle struck out the side in order on 12 pitches in the eighth.
Cespedes hit an 0-1 pitch just over the center-field wall above leaping Leonys Martin in the third. But the Cuban slugger came out of the game in the top of the fifth with a stomach illness.
The Rangers (24-14) arrived in the Bay Area having won seven of nine and began the day with the best record in the majors, but again ran into their division nemesis.
Oakland became the first team in major league history to win a division or pennant after trailing by five games with fewer than 10 to play, stunning the two-time reigning AL champion Rangers in game No. 162. Oakland trailed by 13 games on June 30.
“We’re not in here for any revenge,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “They beat us, we understand that, but there’s nothing we can do about that. … I’m not coming up in here thinking about what happened in the past. Learn from that, but that certainly isn’t fueling us. What’s fueling us is we’re healthy and we’re playing good baseball, that’s it.”
The Rangers had their four-game winning streak snapped. They haven’t won five in a row since June 26-30 last year.
Texas righty Justin Grimm (2-3) lost his third straight after receiving one extra day of rest between outings. He gave way to Joseph Ortiz after plunking Daric Barton to begin the sixth. Ortiz immediately allowed Derek Norris’ double.
Moss struck out on four pitches to start the second after fanning four times on 14 total pitches in a 6-1 loss at Seattle. Then, he connected for his sixth home run with a drive to nearly the same spot as Cespedes moments before. It marked the second time this season the A’s hit back-to-back homers, also done by Jed Lowrie and Chris Young on April 3 against Seattle.
Moss’ homer was the 7,000th in Oakland history, and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson hit the first on April 10, 1968.