ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Semien knows the Rangers need to focus on what is ahead and not dwell on what dropped them out of the AL West lead and left Texas chasing a playoff spot.
Their leadoff hitter is doing his part to set the tone.
Semien homered twice among his four hits for the second time in four games, Corey Seager went deep for the 30th time this season and the Rangers won consecutive games for the first time in September, beating the young last-place Oakland Athletics 9-4 on Sunday.
“Each game is its individual game. We want to focus on that no matter who we’re playing,” Semien said. “Standings are the standings. But if we focus on the task at hand and see where we’re at at the end, I think that’s a better plan.”
For the Rangers (76-64), with 20 games remaining over the next three weeks, they got only their second series victory in their last seven. They won for only the sixth time in their last 22 games, a span when they have gone from a 3 1/2-game lead in the AL West to .003 behind division foe Seattle (79-64) for the American League’s third and final wild-card spot.
“It was really important to at least take this series … get some momentum going with the offense, get a little bit of a swagger,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s a good note to end on.”
Said Semien, “We just want to build off of that. What happened in the past happened in the past.”
Their next four games are at Toronto (80-63), which is 1 1/2 games ahead of them for the second spot.
Andrew Heaney (10-6), the odd man out of the Rangers rotation with All-Star right-hander Nathan Eovaldi back from the injured list, struck out six over 3 2/3 scoreless innings after taking over for Jon Gray in the third. It was the first relief appearance for the left-hander after 27 starts this season.
Semien set a franchise record with his eighth leadoff homer this season on the first pitch thrown by rookie right-hander Luis Medina (3-9). Semien hit another solo shot in the sixth, again on the first pitch, and Seager followed with his on the next pitch to cap a four-run outburst that inning.
Semien, the only Rangers player to start all 142 games, leads the AL with 166 hits and 109 runs scored. He has 24 homers and 87 RBIs.
“He’s a good hitter,” Bochy said. “They get in the zone. He’s been in a nice one here lately with the home runs. He’s driving the ball. He’s getting his pitch and he’s not missing it.”
The A’s (44-99) are one defeat from consecutive 100-loss seasons for the first time since 1964-65 in Kansas City,
Tyler Soderstrom, one of six rookies in the A’s batting order, homered leading off the third inning. Gray was gone after giving up consecutive two-out walks and then back-to-back RBI singles by Seth Brown and Jordan Diaz that tied the game at 3. The go-ahead run scored that inning on third baseman Josh Smith’s fielding error.
OTHER RANGERS RUNS
Nathaniel Lowe put the Rangers ahead to stay with his two-out single in the fifth. An inning later, before Semien and Seager went back-to-back, Smith had an RBI triple and scored on rookie Evan Carter’s sacrifice fly for his first career RBI. … After Lowe was hit by a pitch in the first, Mitch Garver doubled and Robbie Grossman drove them both home with ground-rule double that bounced over the center-field wall for a 3-0 lead.
The Rangers stayed three games behind AL West-leading Houston (82-62), which swept them in three games in their previous series. Semien had four hits and two homers in that series finale, driving in all the Texas runs in a 12-3 loss.
Gray allowed four runs (three earned) with three strikeouts and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. Medina, in his second start since coming off the injured list because of a blister on his index finger, gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked three.
Athletics: SS Kevin Smith remained in the game after getting hit by a pitch on his left hand in the third inning.
Rangers: When Texas returns for its final homestand of the regular season, there is hope of having back two All-Star players. Bochy said rookie 3B Josh Jung (left thumb fracture) is “doing everything, groundballs, swinging the bat.” Jung, who has missed 30 games since his injury, is scheduled to see a doctor Thursday and could be cleared then to face live pitching. Right fielder Garcia has a right patellar tendon (knee) strain and the earliest he could be activated is Sept. 18, when the next homestand begins. Bochy said Garcia said the issue seems “milder than we thought it was, but still some concern.” Garcia said team physician Dr. Keith Meister on Saturday.
Athletics: Open a three-gamer series Monday at AL West-leading Houston.
Rangers: After a 3-6 homestand, Texas plays 14 of its last 20 games on the road. Dane Dunning (9-6, 3.88 ERA) starts the series opener in Toronto.