Grant Balfour of the Oakland Athletics celebrates after the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers at O.co Coliseum. (PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES)
OAKLAND, CA - Holding the outright AL West lead for the past 176 days, the Texas Rangers finally have some company.
Derek Norris hit a go-ahead RBI single as part of a two-run fifth inning and the Oakland Athletics downed Texas, 3-1, in the middle test of the regular season-ending three-game set and forge a tie for first place heading into the final day of the regular season.
Jonny Gomes smacked a solo homer for Oakland, which clinched a postseason berth with a victory over the Rangers on Monday.
Oakland, which trailed Texas by 13 games in the division on June 30, has gone an MLB-best 56-26 since, while the Rangers have tallied a 43-39 mark.
The A's, who are atop the AL West standings for the first time since March 29, can take the division in a winner-take-all showdown against the Rangers on Wednesday. Oakland shared first place with the Mariners at 1-1 after it beat Seattle in Tokyo.
Travis Blackley (6-4) fanned five and surrendered a run on three hits and two walks over six innings to notch the victory.
Matt Harrison (18-11) struck out five, but allowed three runs on six hits and a walk over six frames for Texas, which has held the outright AL West lead since Apr. 9 when it was 3-1.
With Oakland trailing 1-0 entering the home fifth, Josh Donaldson singled to center field and Brandon Moss hooked a double down the right-field line to put runners on second and third with none away.
Norris then ripped a single to right, which plated Donaldson and Moss for a 2-1 A's advantage.
Gomes cracked a two-out solo shot into the left-field seats in the sixth to make it 3-1.
Ryan Webb worked around a leadoff single to keep it a 3-1 game in the eighth and Grant Balfour fired a 1-2-3 ninth and notched his 24th save of the year.
Earlier, Josh Hamilton ripped a two-out RBI double into the right-center field gap to get Texas on the board in the third.
Only four teams in MLB history have come back from a deficit of 13-or-more games to win a pennant or division title: the 1914 Boston Braves (15 back on July 4), the 1978 New York Yankees (14 back on July 18), the 1951 New York Giants (13 back on Aug. 10) and the 1995 Seattle Mariners (13 back on Aug. 1).
The Sports Network