HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers throws in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 12, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the Oakland Athletics survived a shaky night from the bullpen to extend their AL West lead with a 9-8 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
The A's handed the Rangers their fourth straight loss and moved 4½ games ahead of Texas in the opener of the final series of the regular season between the past two AL West champions.
Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios had two-run singles in a six-run eighth as the Rangers tried to rally from a 9-2 deficit. Cespedes, playing left field, ended the threat by throwing out Rios at third on Adrian Beltre's third hit.
Cespedes' 23rd homer came off Derek Holland (9-9), who is winless in a career-high seven straight starts.
Dan Straily (10-7) allowed two hits in 5 2-3 innings to win his fourth straight start and beat Texas for the second time in 11 days.
The right-hander might have stayed around longer if he hadn't struggled with four walks and a hit batter. The bullpen was wild, too, and it almost cost the A's the game.
Sean Doolittle struck out Jurickson Profar with the tying run at second base in the ninth for his second save in seven chances.
Brett Anderson walked Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski to start the eighth, and Ron Cook later gave Ian Kinsler a free pass with the bases loaded for Oakland's eighth walk.
Andrus followed with a single to right field, and Rios singled to center after a passed ball moved both runners into scoring position. Rios tried to go from first to third on Beltre's hit and was ejected by Andy Fletcher for arguing the call.
First-base umpire Joe West tossed Texas pitcher Matt Garza for complaining from the dugout in the top of the ninth.
Josh Donaldson homered and drove in three runs, and Brandon Moss hit his 27th for Oakland. Derek Norris had three hits.
Holland's shortest outing of the season ended with no outs in the fourth after consecutive singles from Norris and Kurt Suzuki. The left-hander has been stuck on nine wins since Aug. 4 and is 0-3 with an 8.78 ERA in three starts in September.
Holland gave up eight hits and six runs in three innings in his second loss to the A's in 10 days.
The Rangers dropped to 2-9 in September and fell a game behind Tampa Bay for the AL wild-card lead.
Straily walked his first two batters with a 3-0 lead, and Kinsler and Andrus both scored to get Texas within 3-2. But the 24-year-old right-hander bounced back with five strong innings before losing his control again in the sixth.
Beltre had both hits off Straily, driving in Kinsler with a single in the first before Pierzynski brought home Andrus on a sacrifice fly. Beltre had an infield hit in the sixth, and Straily didn't make it out of the inning after hitting Pierzynski with a pitch and walking Jim Adduci.
Jerry Blevins got Craig Gentry to ground out with the bases loaded to end the sixth.
NOTES: Every starter in the Oakland lineup had at least one hit and the A's finished with 14 hits, just two nights after getting a season-high 22 in an 18-3 win over Minnesota. ... The Rangers have signed five international prospects, all teenagers, including four from the Dominican Republic and one from Mexico. The Dominicans are shortstops Michael De Leon and Yeison Yrizarri, outfielder Jose Almonte and right-hander Marcos Diplan. Right-hander Edgar Arredondo is from Mexico. Almonte turned 17 Monday. The others are 16.