OAKLAND, Calif. -- The final score makes Saturday afternoon's game look like a runaway, but the Texas Rangers were two sequences away from possibly facing a narrow defeat.
Colby Lewis, though, made the pitches he needed to make early, and Josh Hamilton made the key defensive play late in a game that saw Oakland falter with the glove.
Lewis pitched around a leadoff triple in the first and eventually won a pitchers' duel with Trevor Cahill, and Hamilton's seventh-inning catch at the left-field wall was the A's last gasp as the Rangers pulled away 7-1.
The victory allowed the Rangers to push their advantage in the American League West to three games over the Los Angeles Angels, who were routed at Toronto. The Rangers also tied the second-best mark in club history after 120 games with a 68-52 record.
But the game changed as soon as Jemile Weeks was stranded in the first, and the Rangers were saved six innings later when Hamilton tracked down a Ryan Sweeney fly ball at the warning track.
"The key was Colby keeping us in the game," said Ian Kinsler, who had three RBIs. "There's that and the play Josh made on Sweeney. Nothing Josh does on the field surprises me."
Lewis knew the odds favored the A's after the speedy Weeks lined the first pitch into the right-field corner and coasted into third base.
Hoping to keep the ball in the infield, Lewis got Scott Sizemore to hit a soft liner to Kinsler at second for the first out and got Hideki Matsu to pop to Kinsler.
Josh Willingham flied out to end the threat. The Sizemore out was the first of 17 straight recorded by Lewis.
"A big thing was just not letting that run score," Lewis said. "It's tough. It was a big deal leaving him at third base and keeping the score 0-0."
The Rangers finally broke through in the sixth against Cahill, one of their top mound nemeses. Yorvit Torrealba singled with one out to break up Cahill's no-hit bid.
Cahill looked to be out of the inning when Endy Chavez hit a tapper to second base. Weeks, though, mishandled it and threw wildly for two errors on one play.
Kinsler followed with a double down the left-field line for a 1-0 lead.
Weeks doubled with two outs in the bottom half to snap Lewis' run of consecutive outs but was stranded again. Mike Napoli then doubled in Hamilton in the seventh after Sizemore couldn't handle a Nelson Cruz grounder.
Hamilton had used his legs to help produce the run, taking third as Sizemore fumbled the ball, and used them again to save one in the bottom half.
Lewis (11-8) had been removed in the seventh after a one-out double by Willingham, who would score on David DeJesus' double off Darren Oliver.
Hamilton was playing shallow and toward the line two batters later when Sweeney drove a pitch from Koji Uehara toward the out-of-town scoreboard. Hamilton raced back and made the grab for the final out as he fell on the warning track just before the wall.
"That's the stuff I like doing most," Hamilton said. "He stayed on the ball and drove it. I had to turn and go. The wind knocked it down. At the last second it drifted off to the left."
The 2-1 lead was preserved, and the Rangers would add three runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth for their fifth victory in six games.
"Cahill was good, but the thing that kept things in perspective is that Colby was good, too," said manager Ron Washington, who admitted concern when he saw Hamilton pursuing the Sweeney fly ball in the seventh.
"You never know if he doesn't catch that ball what that inning turns into."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760