ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Scott Hatteberg drove in three runs, and the streaking Oakland Athletics finished a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers with an 8-3 victory Sunday.

Bobby Crosby and Mark Ellis each had three hits to help the A’s extend their winning streak to six. They’ve won 26 of 32 overall to get back in the playoff race and build a 41/2-game lead over the Rangers for second place in the AL West.

Texas lost its fifth straight and fell to 2-9 since the All-Star break. The Rangers, who’ve dropped seven of eight to Oakland since the break, dipped under .500 (48-49) for the first time since they were 13-14 on May 2.

Rich Harden (8-4) wasn’t nearly as dominant as his last start against Texas, but he was good enough to win. He allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings, striking out five and walking four. The right-hander threw 111 pitches in temperatures that reached the mid-90s.

In his previous outing against the Rangers on July 14, Harden carried a perfect game into the eighth and threw a two-hitter in a 6-0 victory.

Oakland jumped on Chan Ho Park (8-5) in the first, using Crosby’s RBI double and Hatteberg’s run-scoring single for a 2-0 edge.

Rangers center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. helped the A’s in the first when he caught a one-out fly off the bat of Eric Chavez and, thinking it was the third out of the inning, flipped the ball to left fielder David Dellucci. Crosby tagged up at second, advanced to third, and scored on Hatteberg’s line-drive single.

Texas made it 2-1 in the second when Harden walked Matthews with the bases loaded, but Harden escaped further damage when he got Sandy Alomar to hit into a double play.

Oakland extended its lead to 3-1 in the third on Hatteberg’s RBI single.

The A’s broke the game open in the fourth, chasing Park with run-scoring singles by Ellis and Mark Kotsay.

Park left the bases loaded, and Chavez’s sacrifice fly off John Wasdin made it 6-1.

Park allowed six runs and nine hits over 3 1-3 innings.

Hatteberg’s sacrifice fly in the sixth made it 7-1, then Texas pulled to 7-3 in the sixth on Matthews’ two-run double off Joe Kennedy.

Ellis added an RBI single in the seventh.

Notes: SS Crosby made a diving catch with his back to the plate in short left field to end the fourth. … Rangers slugger Mark Teixeira was given a break from the heat, serving as the DH for the second time this season. Adrian Gonzalez, recalled from the minors on Saturday, got the start at first base in place of Teixeira, who went 1-for-4. … LF Kevin Mench was out of Texas’ starting lineup because of a bone bruise on his right hand, but he entered as a pinch-hitter in the sixth.

AP-ES-07-24-05 1724EDT


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