ARLINGTON, Texas (CBS/AP) — Bartolo Colon scattered seven hits over eight impressive innings for the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics, who stretched their division lead over Texas to 5 1/2 games with a 1-0 victory over the Rangers and Yu Darvish on Saturday.
The A’s won for the seventh time in eight games, and clinched the key division series by beating Texas twice in less than 24 hours.
Colon (16-6) struck out seven and lowered what is already his career-best ERA to 2.73. The 40-year-old right-hander became the first to reach 20 victories against Texas, his most wins in his career against any team and the most by any pitcher against Texas — breaking what had been a tie with Bert Blyleven, Dennis Leonard and Jack Morris.
Darvish (12-9) struck out 10 over seven innings in his fourth 1-0 loss of the season. The right-hander from Japan has lost his last four starts, the last two by 1-0 scores, and is winless his last six.
Even though Darvish struck out the side in the first, Josh Donaldson drew a one-out walk and scored on a two-out double by Brandon Moss into the right field corner. Donaldson was able to get around catcher Geovany Soto when second baseman Ian Kinsler’s relay throw was a bit up the line.
Colon walked one before Grant Balfour worked the ninth for his 38th save in 40 chances.
Texas has lost all five games on this homestand, and is 2-10 in September.
Oakland overcame a five-game deficit against the Rangers in the final nine games last year, including a season-ending three-game sweep at home of Texas to clinch the AL West title.
But there will still be two weeks left after the AL West’s top two teams play their series finale Sunday, their last game during the regular season.
Other than the A’s last season, only two other teams have overcome deficits of five games or more with 15 or fewer games left since 1969, according to STATS. In 2007, Philadelphia had a 5 1/2-game deficit against the New York Mets with 15 games left, the same the Rangers face now. The St. Louis Cardinals were 5 1/2 games behind Houston with 11 games remaining in 2001.
Darvish had his majors-best 12th game of at least 10 strikeouts this season, and the 20th in his 58 career games. He also surpassed 250 strikeouts, becoming only the fourth pitcher to accomplish that within his first two MLB seasons — the others: Tim Lincecum (265 in 2008), Dwight Gooden (276 in 1984, and 268 in 1985) and Herb Score (263 in 1956).
But Darvish is 1-6 in seven career starts against the A’s, losing the last six. He is 0-4 with a 4.13 ERA in four starts against the division rival this season.
NOTES: The 12:06 p.m. start was the earliest ever at Rangers Ballpark, which is in its 20th season. And it came after a 4-hour, 9-minute game Friday night that matched the fourth-longest nine-inning game in park history. That game ended at 11:16 p.m. … The last MLB pitcher with four 1-0 losses in the same season was Orel Hershiser in 1989. … Balfour had allowed seven runs over his previous seven games, but converted five of six saves in that span. … Elvis Andrus got his 40th stolen base, the most by a Texas player since Otis Nixon’s 50 in 1995.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed