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TEX@OAK: A's go deep four times vs. Rangers

OAKLAND -- Anibal Sanchez. Justin Verlander. Doug Fister. David Price. Derek Holland.

All of these pitchers fall somewhere in the top 20 in ERA among American League pitchers. So, too, does Yu Darvish.

And the same A's offense that was on life support just weeks ago has recorded wins against each of them in the last 10 days. Oakland made Darvish the latest victim in an 11-4 pounding of the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon at O.Co Coliseum that once again knotted the teams in a first-place division tie.

The list is without Max Scherzer, but only because of a blown save, after the A's had gotten to him as well.

"When we face a good pitcher, what were we going to do? Were we going to be shut down, or were we going to be able to score some runs? That's been a question mark for us the last couple of years," said Brandon Moss, who hit a first-inning two-run homer off Darvish. "I think over the last couple of weeks, with the pitching staffs we've been facing, we've been putting together some nice offensive runs, and it's doing a lot for our confidence because we know we can beat those guys."

"That does go a long way for your confidence," added manager Bob Melvin. "It becomes a contagious thing throughout the lineup. You go back and I'm looking at my board and seeing starting pitchers we're facing and it looked pretty ominous.

"There are some pretty good names that we're getting good swings off of. The fact that we are beating good starting pitching, that's even a better reason to feel good about yourself."

The A's are feeling good, all right, after going 9-4 against Baltimore, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Texas. Now they get a break in the schedule with four games against the Astros and three at Minnesota, before reuniting with the Rangers in Arlington for one final regular-season series beginning Sept. 13.

"It's going to be fun," said Josh Donaldson. "This is what it's all about. This is where everyone wants to be right now, in this position to control your own destiny and hopefully win a division title. I feel like everyone's feeling good about themselves, and we're playing pretty good baseball right now."

When Donaldson's three-run shot off reliever Robbie Ross had found its way to the left-field stands in the sixth, the A's had themselves a 9-2 lead. Oakland's fourth homer of the day, a two-run dinger from Coco Crisp, who has four in his last five games and eight since Aug. 18, marked something of an exclamation point.

The A's, who also got a two-run homer from Daric Barton in a six-run sixth, have 26 home runs over the last 17 games, in which they're batting .286 with 89 runs scored. Moss is responsible for eight of the long balls.

His first-inning blast was the third of his career off Darvish, who fell to 1-5 with a 4.86 ERA in six career starts against the A's, after allowing them five runs on five hits with a career high-tying six walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings.

He has a 3.26 ERA against everyone else.

"I think he brings out the best in us because he's their No. 1," said Donaldson. "Up and down the lineup, I felt like we all had good at-bats today. I think he wasn't feeling great today, and it's just one of those things where he was battling and we were able to beat him on a couple pitches.

"It shows that we have a pretty good lineup on any given day. No matter who's on the mound, we can put up some runs. This is a great time right now for our offense to get it going, and it takes some pressure off our pitchers."

Not that Jarrod Parker was feeling any pressure at all. The A's righty, who limited the Rangers to two runs in six innings to improve to 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA against them, established a new Oakland record on Wednesday with 18 consecutive unbeaten starts. Lefty Grove's streak of 21 in 1931 is the longest by an A's pitcher.

Parker boasts a 2.59 ERA in that span, a stretch that begs the question: is he Oakland's new ace?

"I saw that last year," Moss said. "Down the stretch, there was nobody that pitched better than him. Start in, start out, you knew what you were going to get. He was going to throw strikes, he wasn't going to walk people, he was going to put the ball in play, and I think that's what was more surprising early in the year, those struggles he was having. Because that's not him. Once he got comfortable, he's been the same guy. That's who he is. He is an ace."

"When you got Darvish on the other side you know you got to be on it and we did a great job of extending him and working his pitch count up," said Parker. "We just kind of battled."

And made it look too easy.

"We've been playing well lately, have some good momentum going, and hopefully we can continue that, because right now is the time to play your best baseball," Moss said. "We know the Rangers aren't going anywhere. They've got a really talented team, and we know that they're going to play good baseball this last stretch, so we know we have to, too."

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