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CLE@TEX: Holland fans seven over seven strong innings

The A's have played their last 13 games against the Angels, Orioles, Tigers and Yankees. They're not done facing postseason contenders.

Ten games remain on Oakland's schedule, and seven are dates with the Rangers. The teams begin a four-game series on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and will finish the season with three in Oakland.

"We just have to take care of our business and concentrate on what we're doing," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The schedule would suggest we're playing all teams that are in that situation, but that shouldn't affect us. The only thing is that they're really good teams fighting for their lives as well.

"It's all the same for us each and every day, whether we're at home or on the road. No matter who we're playing. Every day has to be for us. Like you're playing your last day. You've got to leave it all out there."

If the A's are going to make a run at the American League West title, this series represents a golden opportunity. Their 5-4 win against the Yankees on Sunday left them four games behind the Rangers, once Texas beat Seattle later in the day. Oakland also has a hold on the second AL Wild Card spot.

"We're going to go in there and we're going to be three or four games back. That's the reality of it," A's closer Grant Balfour said. "Whatever it is, we know we've got an opportunity to play them seven times and to win seven games. They're a tough team. We know that. I'm not taking anything away from them. They've been good for a long time and I respect that. But I'm going to go in there with a lot of confidence. We're all going to go in there with a lot of confidence and we're going to play them tough."

The Rangers decreased their magic number for winning the division to seven, meaning they could accomplish that by the time the A's leave town.

Oakland will turn to rookie Dan Straily in the series opener as it tries to turn around a road trip it has started 2-4. Straily is 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in five starts, with 21 strikeouts and 10 walks in 28 1/3 innings. He has allowed eight home runs.

The right-hander, who hasn't faced the Rangers, walked five and gave up a pair of homers on Sept. 16 against the Orioles. He surrendered four runs in 4 2/3 innings, with five walks.

"That's the most guys I've ever walked in a single game in my life," Straily said afterward. "That's frustrating. Just poor fastball command, and I started falling behind hitters and then starting to be too fine. I wasn't even close to the strike zone."

Derek Holland (11-6, 4.42) will take the ball for the Rangers as they begin their seven-game homestand. The lefty has made six consecutive quality starts, going 4-0 with a 2.79 ERA, 38 strikeouts and nine walks over 42 innings in that span.

"I feel he's matured as a pitcher," catcher Geovany Soto said after Holland held the Angels to two runs in seven innings on Wednesday. "I feel like he's learned how to pitch instead of being a thrower. He's moving his fastball in and out and his off-speed stuff is there when it's called."

A's: Pink eye lingering for Crisp
• Center fielder Coco Crisp remains day to day with a case of pink eye. The A's hope he will return to the lineup in Texas, but aren't sure if the condition will improve quickly enough to make that happen.

"We're not going to put him in a position to go out there where he can't see the ball," Melvin said. "That can be pretty dangerous. We hope it's [Monday]. We're not sure."

Crisp hasn't started a game since Tuesday and has appeared in only one, on Friday.

• The A's selected the contract of veteran reliever Jeremy Accardo from Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday in an effort to bolster their bullpen depth. The 30-year-old righty posted a 4.58 ERA in 26 games for the Indians this season.

Rangers: Hamilton's status a big question mark
• Outfielder Josh Hamilton already missed the Rangers' series in Seattle, instead returning home as he tries to recover from a sinus problem that is impacting his vision. Texas might have to do without its slugger for all or part of the Oakland series as well.

"I don't know [if he will play Monday]," Rangers manager Ron Washington said on Sunday. "When we get back, we'll see how he is."

Hamilton last played on Tuesday, when he went 0-for-1 with a walk against the Angels. He's hitting .231 in 15 September games but has six home runs and a .989 OPS.

• The Rangers are coming off a series loss to the Mariners after winning three straight and nine of their last 10.

Worth noting
• The teams' season series is knotted at 6-6, although the Rangers are 4-2 at home.

• Holland gave up three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings against the A's on June 5.

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