In the midst of a wild-card race, the Oakland Athletics are only concerned about winning games.
That might not be a problem with the Seattle Mariners in town.
Owners of the AL's second wild-card spot, the A's try for a sixth consecutive win over the Mariners on Saturday.
Coco Crisp had three hits, including a leadoff homer, as Oakland (89-68) opened its final regular-season homestand with an 8-2 win over Seattle on Friday. While the A's are three games behind West-leading Texas, they own a two-game lead over Los Angeles for the AL's final wild-card spot.
Oakland's magic number to clinch its first postseason berth since 2006 is down to four.
Though the A's still have a division title in their sights and know the Angels and Tampa Bay are chasing them in the wild-card race, manager Bob Melvin tries not to do too much scoreboard watching.
"I don't want the emotions (of another team's game), it's difficult enough to go through the emotions of our game," Melvin told the Athletics' official website.
Outfielder Jonny Gomes agrees with his skipper's stance."It's tunnel vision, if you will," Gomes said. "I 100 percent buy it."
Back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 18 because of an eye problem, Crisp was the catalyst as the A's scored at least seven runs for a third consecutive game. Oakland holds a 26-7 scoring advantage during its five-game winning streak against the Mariners (73-84).
Oakland's leadoff hitter is 11 for 27 (.407) in his last six games versus Seattle.
"It's been a while since I've been out there," Crisp said. "It's always nice to put a bat on the ball."
Though Crisp is 10 for 30 with a home run off Mariners starter Jason Vargas (14-11, 3.94 ERA), the left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in five starts against the A's this season.
Vargas, who allowed only a three-run homer to Gomes in seven innings of a 4-2 home loss to Oakland on Sept. 9, is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in two starts at the Coliseum in 2012. In his most recent outing there on July 7, he gave up a homer to Josh Reddick in a complete-game 7-1 victory.
However, Vargas is 1-3 with a 6.03 ERA in his last six starts overall. He allowed three runs on two homers in six innings of a 3-2 loss to Texas on Sunday.
The 35 home runs he's allowed this season are the second-most in the majors.
Michael Saunders and Trayvon Robinson each homered Friday for the Mariners, who have dropped six of eight on the road. Saunders is batting .333 (7 for 21) with two doubles, a triple and a home run in his last five games versus Oakland.
The Mariners will get their first look at Daniel Straily (2-1, 3.60) on Saturday. The rookie right-hander gave up four runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-5 home loss to Baltimore on Sept. 16, but yielded two runs and struck out eight in 6 2-3 while not factoring in the decision of a 5-4 defeat at Texas on Monday.
|September 15, 2012||Casper Wells||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|August 31, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained groin|
|August 25, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Sore groin|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 06, 2012||Brendan Ryan||Day-to-Day||Left elbow contusion|
|September 25, 2012||Coco Crisp||Day-to-Day||Eye infections|
|September 19, 2012||Brett Anderson||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right oblique|
|September 05, 2012||Brandon McCarthy||Day-to-Day||Left game - head injury|
|September 02, 2012||Brandon Inge||Day-to-Day||Dislocated right shoulder|
|September 02, 2012||Brandon Inge||60-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|August 18, 2012||Jordan Norberto||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Brandon Moss still had remnants of a whipped-cream pie splashed across both sides of his beard in the clubhouse. When someone pointed out the smears, Moss plucked the rest from his face and licked his fingers clean.
"Last time, I didn't eat any," he said. "But this time, I ate a lot of it. I left my mouth open."
Winning sure taste better in a late September playoff race.
Moss hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning after Josh Donaldson 's tying two-run shot in the ninth, and the Oakland Athletics gained ground on the first-place Texas Rangers with a stunning 7-4 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
"Epic," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's a pretty dramatic win, maybe as dramatic as all."
For a low-budget ballclub that has had its share of you-have-to-be-kidding-me moments this season, that's quite a statement from the manager.
After what Melvin had just witnessed, perhaps it's hard to blame him.
Coco Crisp singled off Oliver Perez (1-3) leading off the final inning for his fourth hit. Stephen Pryor entered with one out and walked Yoenis Cespedes on four pitches.
Moss hammered the first pitch against Pryor well over the wall in right for his 21st home run, sending Oakland (90-68) streaming out of the dugout to celebrate its major-league leading 14th walk-off win.
The A's are 2 1/2 games back of Texas in the division and 2 1/2 ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the final wild card. The Angels-Rangers game Saturday in Texas was postponed by inclement weather, and the teams will play a doubleheader Sunday. Tampa Bay also is three games behind Oakland.
Oakland hosts Texas in the final three games of the season starting Monday. If the Angels lose the doubleheader and Tampa Bay falls in its finale at the Chicago White Sox, the A's could clinch at least the wild card with a win Sunday.
"Our mind is still focused on trying to go after the division," Donaldson said. "Every game out there is the biggest game of the year for us. That's the way it's been for the last month."
Considering the way the A's have played since the All-Star break, no goal seems silly anymore.
Donaldson's drive off Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth landed just over the wall in center field for his ninth home run to start Oakland's latest rally. Grant Balfour (3-2) pitched a perfect inning to earn the win.
With each game becoming bigger than the last, the A's have shown no signs of a young team overwhelmed by the pressure.
Players tossed a football around during batting practice. Right fielder Josh Reddick even wore a camouflage shirt and punted the ball in flip-flops.
The laid-back approach carried over again - just not right away.
Dan Straily allowed four runs, four walks and three hits in 4 1-3 innings while striking out three, though he ended up jumping over the couch in the clubhouse watching Donaldson's homer, admitting he was so excited "I have no idea how I got there." His bullpen backed him up, though, with five relievers tossing scoreless ball.
John Jaso walked leading off the second inning and took advantage of a pair of errors for Seattle's first run.
Justin Smoak grounded out to Moss, who stepped on first base and threw the ball into left field. Cespedes tried to throw out Jaso at third and instead sailed the ball into Oakland's dugout, allowing Jaso to score and give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
"It almost hit our Purell container in the dugout. That would have bothered me," Melvin could joke later. "I use that quite often in the dugout. It just hit the water cooler. That would have been really devastating if it knocked over the Purell container. We can take a run there, we just don't want to lose that."
Kyle Seager hit a solo shot over the wall in center and Michael Saunders lined a two-run homer to right to put Seattle ahead 4-0 in the fourth. It was the 19th home run for each this season.
Cespedes singled and scored from first on Moss' single in the bottom of the inning. Cespedes was stealing second on the play, and his hesitation around third base fooled right fielder Casper Wells just enough to slide in safely and slice Seattle's lead to 4-1.
Once again, Jason Vargas quieted the A's.
He struck out seven and walked none in seven innings. The lefty is 2-1 and has allowed only 10 runs in six starts against Oakland this season.
Moss also doubled in the eighth against Wilhelmsen to score Crisp and Stephen Drew was waived home from first by third base Mike Gallego . Second baseman Dustin Ackley 's relay throw from Wells in right easily got Drew out at home to end the inning and leave the possible tying run stranded at second.
Moss made a diving grab to rob pinch-hitter Jesus Montero for the final out of Seattle's ninth to save at least a run and set the stage for another thriller he would finish.
"Those guys are feeling it over there," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "The fans are feeling it. Obviously the players are feeling it. You can sense the excitement in the air."
NOTES: A's LHP Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57 ERA), who strained his right oblique Sept. 19 after a strong return from last year's Tommy John surgery, played toss from 120 feet before the game. He will pitch a bullpen session as soon as Monday, and could be back if the A's make the playoffs. ... Oakland slugger Jonny Gomes received the 2012 Dave Stewart Community Service Award from the former A's pitcher during a pregame ceremony. ... Lefty Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA) starts for Oakland opposite Mariners RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 3.42 ERA) in Sunday's series finale.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP