A's fail to lock up playoff berth with loss to Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Oakland Athletics are still waiting on their third straight trip to the playoffs.

On this night, they had only themselves to blame.

The A's couldn't take advantage of their first chance to clinch an AL wild-card spot on their own, allowing homers to rookie Jake Smolinski and Robinson Chirinos in a 5-4 win for the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.

Oakland's lead over Seattle was cut to one game for the second wild-card slot. Almost two hours after the A's lost, the Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 in 11 innings.

The Athletics (87-74) will get another chance Sunday, scheduled as the final day of the regular season.

"These things are tough," A's manager Bob Melvin said while the Mariners and Angels were still playing. "It takes a while to digest these things, and you move on to whatever the next scenario is."

The A's have the second-worst record in the majors since they were 11 games up in the wild-card race and four games ahead of the AL West-winning Angels on Aug. 10. They have lost eight of 12.

This time, they were beaten with trade deadline pickup Jeff Samardzija (5-6) facing spot starter Scott Baker after Derek Holland was a late scratch because of a migraine headache.

The Rangers used eight pitchers to defeat the A's for the fifth time in six games since last week. Spencer Patton (1-0), the fourth reliever, got his first major league win, and Neftali Feliz earned his 13th save.

"I was hoping that it wouldn't have to be that way," Texas manager Tim Bogar said. "But that team over there, they always keep it close. Bottom line was, one pitcher, eight pitchers, it all works."

Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick had three hits apiece for Oakland, including singles in a two-run eighth that ended with Alberto Callaspo's fly ball that was caught by Smolinski at the wall in right field with two runners on base.

"We can't get the one hit that we need to go to the playoffs," Reddick said. "It's very frustrating."

Donaldson, who couldn't run anywhere close to full speed because of a knee injury sustained a night earlier, homered to left for a 1-0 lead in the first, made a diving play for an out on a sharp grounder in the second, and beat out an infield single in the sixth. He was walking around the clubhouse after the game with an ice pack the size of a basketball on his knee.

"Pretty amazing," Melvin said. "Struggling to run around the bases, obviously, but he wants to be in there and help the team win."

Baker, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 5 after dealing with soreness in his right arm, was pulled in the fifth inning. Left-handers Alex Claudio and Michael Kirkman got both of their outs on double plays against the first hitters they faced. Patton recorded all three outs in the seventh.

Samardzija had gone 23 straight innings without allowing an earned run when the Rangers got two in the first on consecutive RBI singles from Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre. Smolinski made it 3-1 with his third home run of the season, a shot to left field in the fourth.

Chirinos' 13th homer was a two-run drive that put Texas ahead 5-2 in the seventh.


Holland's headache put big Oakland designated hitter Adam Dunn in the lineup for his 2,000th game. The active leader in games played without a trip to the postseason singled and struck out twice before Jonny Gomes pinch-hit for him in the eighth.


Athletics: Donaldson, who injured his left knee making a back-handed stop at third base on Friday, said he was reassured by the Rangers medical staff that he didn't have any structural damage.

Rangers: Holland wasn't ruled out as the starter in Sunday's season finale after he was scratched.


Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (13-10, 3.23) is 0-3 in five September starts and has just one win since Aug. 1. He is a loss away from matching the career-high, four-game losing streak he had last month.

Rangers: Nick Martinez (5-11, 4.61) has a 2.12 ERA in his past five starts. He beat Houston on Tuesday for his first career home victory in his ninth start in Arlington. Martinez also beat Gray to complete a series sweep in Oakland last week.