ARLINGTON -- Adrian Beltre did it again.The Oakland Athletics were seven outs from a victory in a critical four-game series opener against the Texas Rangers. They had gotten an impressive outing by rookie Dan Straily and knocked Rangers starter Derek Holland out after three innings.But the Rangers rallied behind a game-tying two-run homer by Beltre in the seventh inning, paving the way for Beltre to play hero once again with a walkoff single in the ninth in a 5-4 victory on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark.The Rangers extended their lead in the American League West over Oakland to five games with nine remaining in the regular season."Every game for us is big," Beltre said, "especially facing the team right behind us. We want to clinch as early as we can so we can set up the pitching rotation [for the playoffs]."Trailing 4-2 going into the seventh, the Rangers still couldn't get anything going against Straily, making his sixth big-league start. Ian Kinsler grounded out to start the inning and Elvis Andrus lined out.Straily was pulled after that, though, as Oakland went with Jerry Blevins for the lefty-lefty matchup against Josh Hamilton.Hamilton drew a walk on a full count, and the A's turned to right-hander Pat Neshek against Beltre. And Beltre came through with a two-run opposite-field shot to tie the game.The clutch blast was four days after Beltre brought in the go-ahead runs in a 3-1 victory against the Angels. The crowd of 43,044 started chanting "M-V-P" for Beltre after that."It's nice, but I didn't hear that," Beltre said. "I was too excited."The Rangers capped the comeback victory in the ninth against A's reliever Tyson Ross.Mitch Moreland led off with a single to center, and Craig Gentry entered as a pinch runner. Kinsler then singled to left, and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Andrus.Oakland intentionally walked Hamilton to load the bases. It didn't work, as Beltre ripped a single back up the middle to deliver the winning run.The win came on a night when Holland struggled to find the strike zone.He worked around a leadoff single in the first, but couldn't minimize damage after issuing a leadoff walk in the second. Josh Donaldson ripped a 3-1 fastball for a home run to left-center field to give the A's an early 2-0 lead.After the Rangers had cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom half, Holland gave up another homer in the third. Yoenis Cespedes took him deep for a solo shot, which put the A's up 3-1.Holland gave up a single and walk after the homer, but ended what was his last inning without any more damage. He threw 77 pitches, 44 for strikes, giving up three runs on four hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.It was Holland's shortest start since May 30 when he lasted 1 2/3 innings against Seattle.Despite that, the Rangers' bullpen kept the team within striking distance. Roy Oswalt threw two scoreless innings in his first appearance since Sept. 9. Robbie Ross came in to work the sixth and allowed a run. Brandon Moss led off with a single and scored four batters later on a single by Cliff Pennington.Koji Uehara pitched a perfect seventh and Mike Adams had a scoreless eighth.Joe Nathan worked around a one-out walk in the ninth by getting a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play to end the inning."We are at the fun part of the season," Rangers designated hitter Michael Young said. "Right now every game is going to be big for the rest of the season."Drew Davison, 817-380-7760Twitter: @DrewDavison
5The Rangers' magic number to clinch the AL West.