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TEX@OAK: Perez shines against division rivals

While the Athletics will look to extend their American League West lead to their largest advantage of the season on Sunday, the rival Rangers will simply be hoping to halt their September freefall.

In winning the first two games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington -- and four straight overall -- the A's have extended their division lead to 5 1/2 games, just a half-game shy of the season-best six-game edge they held from July 28-29. Texas, meanwhile, is winless over the first five games of its current homestand, and is just 2-10 in the month of September.

The Rangers will turn to southpaw Martin Perez for the series finale with A's -- which will also be their final chance this season to gain ground in a head-to-head meeting with their rivals. Texas will attempt to grab the final game of its six-game homestand and, in turn, avoid a sweep at the hands of the suddenly surging Athletics.

Not only has Texas' chances of winning the AL West taken a hit with the recent slump, but the Rangers are now fighting just to hold onto their shrinking lead in the AL Wild Card race. In losing eight of their last nine games, the Rangers are tied with the Rays, who beat the Twins on Saturday night, for the top spot in the race.

"It has been tough," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said on Friday night. "We haven't been getting the wins. But, believe me, it has been a lot of fun. We're fighting to the end; we just haven't been able to get the win. That's all you can do, is fight to the end. We're really close to clicking and running off a winning streak."

Turning that elusive corner won't be an easy task against A's starter Jarrod Parker, who last suffered a loss on May 22. Though that defeat came at the hands of the Rangers, Parker has since gone 9-0 with a 2.61 ERA over 19 starts -- including 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in three more matchups against Texas.

In his most recent start, the 24-year-old served up a pair of long solo home runs on Tuesday against the Twins, but limited the damage to just those two runs over six innings of work. Parker left that contest in position for yet another victory, but ultimately settled for a no-decision, after the Twins rallied late against Oakland's bullpen.

"I thought he pitched great," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "When you're rolling up game after game like he is, and you're not giving anything up, sometimes when you give up a run or two, it doesn't look like your best performance. But again, 100 pitches, six innings, we're ahead when he leaves -- I'll take that."

Athletics: Anderson hoping for speedy recovery
The back spasms that forced reliever Brett Anderson out of Friday's series opener after just two batters are expected to keep him sidelined for another day or two. But the A's are hoping that will be the extent of it.

Anderson, who missed four months earlier this season with a stress fracture in his right foot, experienced the spasms in the eighth inning of the A's 9-8 win after walking the only two batters he faced. Though Melvin couldn't put a timetable on the reliever's return, the A's skipper said Anderson arrived in the clubhouse on Saturday morning feeling "probably better than we expected."

"It might be a couple of days," Melvin said, "but I don't think it's going to be a long-term thing."

Rangers: Perez looking to start new streak
As the Rangers aim to snap Parker's lengthy winning streak in the series finale, their starter will be looking to begin a new streak of his own.

Perez takes the mound on Sunday for the first time since his six-game winning streak was snapped on Tuesday at the hands of the Pirates. The Rangers lefty served up nine hits and a pair of walks over five innings, while admittedly struggling at times with his command.

"When you work hard and trust what you have, you'll have a good game," said Perez, who spent his Friday bullpen session working on better commanding his inside fastball and outside sinker. "You have to continue to trust in what you have, and remember you have a good team. You have guys behind you playing good. Just play relaxed."

Perez, who had gone 6-0 with a 2.76 ERA in his six starts prior to Tuesday's loss, is 9-4 with a 3.60 ERA in 16 starts overall this season.

Worth noting
• Texas has been outscored in the first inning in each of the first two games this series. The Rangers have been outscored 76-44 in the first inning overall this season, the only frame in which they have not scored as many or more runs than their opponents.

• A's third baseman Josh Donaldson enters play on Sunday with a career-best 10-game hitting streak. He is hitting .447 (17-for-38) with three home runs, six doubles, 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored during that stretch.

• Oakland slugger Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .373 (19-for-51) with three home runs, 13 RBIs and eight multi-hit games in 13 September games.

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