Sitting atop the AL wild-card standings, the Oakland Athletics aren't showing any signs of letting up.
As they continue to surge toward their first playoff berth in six seasons, the Athletics aim for a three-game sweep of the visiting Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
After taking Friday's series opener 8-2, Oakland (90-68) found itself on the verge of defeat before pulling out a 7-4, extra-inning win Saturday. Josh Donaldson hit a game-tying two-run homer in the ninth before Brandon Moss ' three-run shot in the 10th moved the A's to within 2 1/2 games of West-leading Texas.
"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."
Saturday's victory gave Oakland its first 90-win season since 2006, when it made its most recent postseason appearance. While the A's, who host the Rangers in their final series of the season, still have a chance to catch Texas, they appear much more likely to grab a wild-card berth.
Winner of four of five overall and 14 of 19 at home, Oakland is 2 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles and three in front of Tampa Bay for the AL's second wild-card spot.
If the Angels, who play a doubleheader at Texas after Saturday's contest was rained out, get swept on Sunday and Tampa Bay loses at Chicago, Oakland will clinch a playoff spot.
The A's have to be feeling good about giving the ball to Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA), who's gone 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA over his last seven starts. The left-hander gave up two unearned runs and six hits over six innings Tuesday in a 3-2, 10-inning win at Texas.
Milone should have a good chance to build on that outing against the Mariners (73-85). He yielded two runs and struck out a career best-tying 10 over six innings of a 4-2 win at Seattle on Sept. 9, improving to 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts in this series.
While Milone went 5-1 with a 0.91 ERA over his first eight home starts, he's since struggled by the Bay, going 2-3 with a 5.77 ERA over his last six. He's also had a rough time in day games, posting a 5.23 ERA - more than two runs higher than his 3.14 mark at night.
Taking the mound for Seattle is fellow rookie Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 3.42). The right-hander had gone 1-0 while compiling a 2.40 ERA over his previous two starts before giving up five runs - three earned - and seven hits over six innings in Tuesday's 5-4 loss at Los Angeles.
"That's baseball," Ramirez told the team's official website. "They hit some balls in the right spots and I just tried to continue pitching and keep the game close. ... I tried my best and now I'll just wait for the next start."
The 22-year-old was lights-out in his only start against the A's, allowing one run, three hits and striking out a career-best 10 opposite Milone in a 1-0 loss June 25.
Ramirez will need to be wary of Moss, who's batting .405 with three homers, 11 runs scored and eight RBIs in his last 10 games.
Losers of nine of 12, the Mariners went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position Saturday. They've gone 7 for 79 (.089) in such situations over their last 10 games.
|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) -- Another dramatic win in hand, the Oakland Athletics gathered around the big screen clubhouse TV and began feasting on Mexican food while watching the Angels and Rangers play the second game of their Texas doubleheader.
The upstart A's are still chasing an AL West title with three games to go. And that's about as ideal a scenario as anyone around here could have envisioned in a season full of injuries, sweeping changes and even a drug suspension for key starting pitcher Bartolo Colon .
"Oh, we're pumped," third baseman Josh Donaldson said.
Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning to move Oakland a win closer to the club's first playoff berth in six years, and the A's beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2 on Sunday to stay right on the heels of Texas in the AL West race.
Cespedes also hit an RBI triple and Brandon Moss had a sacrifice fly in the first inning for the A's (91-68), who are two games behind Texas (93-66).
The two-time reigning AL champion Rangers come to the Coliseum for the final three games starting Monday with the division crown still up for grabs.
"It's our choice," closer Grant Balfour said. "If we go out there and win, good things are going to happen. The way we're playing right now I feel like we've got some good momentum going. We want to keep it rolling all the way through October."
Oakland leads the Los Angeles Angels (88-71) by three games for the second AL wild card.
Cespedes sent a 1-2 pitch from Shawn Kelley (2-4) towering into the left-field seats for his 23rd homer. He keyed another dramatic victory for the A's a day after Moss hit a three-run drive in the 10th inning of Oakland's 14th walkoff win.
Josh Reddick connected with a two-run shot for his team-leading 32nd homer two batters later as the A's made it a sweep.
Surprising Oakland, with its energetic roster of rookies, has hit 20 home runs in its last nine games and has a majors-best 110 since the All-Star break.
But the A's will have to wait at least one more day to secure a playoff berth. The Angels kept their hopes alive by rallying in the ninth to win the opener of the doubleheader at Texas.
Oakland dropped its magic number to one for clinching the club's first playoff berth since 2006. The A's were swept that year by the Tigers in four games of the AL championship series.
"We're just going to try to win tomorrow," manager Bob Melvin said. "I think we're best suited to just do that and not worry about all the different variables. We're in the dugout today and all of a sudden the Angels score went up and it's so emotional this time of year. Your thoughts can go back and forth based on one scoreboard change. It is exciting, it is fun. It's a bit of a rollercoaster at times."
Sean Doolittle (2-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the win, and Balfour finished for his 22nd save.
Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak each hit RBI singles in the third as Seattle tied it. The Mariners were 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position this series before Carlos Triunfel 's second-inning single. But Smoak was thrown out at home as the A's saved a run.
Milone gave way to Pat Neshek with two outs in the fifth and Casper Wells on third with a triple. But Neshek was done after walking Jesus Montero on four pitches.
Jerry Blevins relieved and retired Smoak on a grounder in which Donaldson made a lunging, run-saving stop.
All-Star Ryan Cook allowed Trayvon Robinson 's leadoff single in the seventh, then struck out the side.
The tough losses keep piling up for the Mariners.
"It's definitely been pretty crazy. I've never seen anything like it," Kelley said. "You don't like to lose but to keep losing in this fashion is not fun."
A's starter Tommy Milone allowed a leadoff double to Franklin Gutierrez to start the game but got out of it unscathed. The left-hander, whose 13 wins are already an Oakland rookie record, allowed two runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings. He struck out three and didn't surrender a walk.
"We feel like we can win every game," Milone said. "That's how we're playing right now."
Gutierrez, the Seattle center fielder, left the game before the bottom of the third with tightness in his left groin after batting in the top half. Gutierrez, who missed Friday's series opener after crashing into the wall a day earlier at Anaheim, hit a pair of doubles and scored a run following an 0-for-5 day Saturday. He is day to day.
When Coco Crisp drew a leadoff walk in the third, it ended a 16-inning streak without a free pass for Ramirez. The right-hander walked four to double his total in eight major league starts.
NOTES: Cespedes hit his fifth homer vs. the Mariners in the seventh inning or later. And Oakland won the season series 12-7. ... Mariners manager Eric Wedge rested 2B Dustin Ackley for most of the day and got a second straight look at Triunfel, who played SS on Saturday. ... RHP Jarrod Parker (12-8) pitches for the A's in Monday night's series opener against LHP Martin Perez (1-3) and the Rangers. Melvin said struggling LHP Travis Blackley - with two wins in his last seven starts - is still down to start Tuesday night against Texas. "I don't know that we have any other options, to tell you the truth," Melvin said. ... LHP Brett Anderson , who is nursing a strained right oblique but could return to pitch a one-game wild card playoff, played light catch and is set to throw off a mound Monday.