Long out of playoff contention, the Texas Rangers are relishing the opportunity to have an impact on the postseason chase in late September.
J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer during a six-run ninth inning, and the last-place Rangers rallied to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-1 on Wednesday night.
"It's beautiful. I love it," interim Rangers manager Tim Bogar said.
The comeback against A's closer Sean Doolittle (1-4) followed a stellar pitching duel between Texas' Derek Holland and Oakland's Jeff Samardzija. It also ended the A's two-year reign as AL West champions.
The Los Angeles Angels clinched the division with a 5-0 win over Seattle and the loss by Oakland.
The A's dropped into a tie with Kansas City for the AL's top wild card. Seattle is two games behind Oakland and the Royals for the second and final berth.
"I'm happy that I don't have to see champagne this weekend," said Bogar, whose club begins a three-game series at the Angels on Friday night.
Sam Fuld's single in the fifth drove in Oakland's only run. The A's stranded 10 runners, including loading the bases with no outs in the eighth only to come up empty.
Robbie Ross (3-6) got the final five outs for Texas, which has won five in a row.
Samardzija outpitched Holland to put the A's in position to start turning around their late-season slide. Samardzija struck out 10 and allowed just four hits in eight innings.
As well as he pitched, though, it wasn't enough for the A's to overcome another underwhelming performance at the plate or a bullpen implosion.
Elvis Andrus singled and scored on Rougned Odor's double to start the Rangers' rally. After Adrian Beltre was intentionally walked, Arencibia's 10th home run silenced the crowd of 17,530 at the Coliseum.
Arencibia had struck out his previous three plate appearances against Samardzija.
"When I got up there and I was 0-2, I was like, `Let's go, you gotta get this guy in,"' Arencibia said. "I was looking for the ball down because he strikes a lot of guys out with fastballs up."
Doolittle was charged with five of the six runs. Oakland is 5-14 since Aug. 28.
"Right now, it really hurts," Doolittle said. "But it doesn't do you any good, it doesn't do your team any good to sit and mope and sulk and feel sorry for yourself."
Holland continued his remarkable return for the Rangers after missing five months following offseason knee surgery. He gave up one run, four hits and three walks in 6 1-3 innings.
In four starts this season, Holland has allowed just three runs. His latest outing still wasn't enough to outlast Samardzija, who provided a much-needed performance on the mound after Oakland's sloppy 6-3 loss to Texas on Tuesday night.
Samardzija stranded a runner on second in the first, third and fifth -- the only threats he faced all night. He has allowed no runs in five of his starts with the Cubs and A's this season -- and he hasn't won any of them.
"No time to pout. No time to feel sorry for yourself," Samardzija said. "That's just the way it goes."
INJURED UMPIRE: Plate umpire Kerwin Danley took a foul tip from A's second baseman Nick Punto off his facemask in the fifth. Danley was replaced by second base umpire Mark Ripperger to start the sixth, looking woozy as he staggered off the field.
Rangers: OF Shin-Soo Choo, already out for the season with an elbow injury, had surgery on his left ankle to remove torn cartilage and a small bone spur. He is in a walking boot and should start a running program in six to eight weeks.
Athletics: C Stephen Vogt (sprained left ankle) was intentionally walked as a pinch hitter in the eighth. He hadn't played since Sept. 3.
Rangers: RHP Nick Martinez (3-11, 4.93 ERA) starts Thursday's series finale. He's 2-5 with a 4.72 ERA in his last 10 starts.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (13-8, 3.18) takes the mound for Oakland. He has allowed four earned runs in 15 innings over his last two starts.