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TEX@OAK: Melvin talks emotion after clinching berth

The A's entered this week's series against the Rangers with two goals in mind: clinch a playoff berth and win the American League West -- in that order.

On Monday night, they locked up that playoff berth -- the franchise's first since 2006. Now, they'll be looking to dethrone the back-to-back division champion Rangers with victories in the season's final two games.

Texas, which no longer owns the top seed in the AL, is in serious danger of losing the division crown to Oakland. The A's trailed the Rangers by 13 games on June 30, but they've posted the best record in baseball since the start of July.

Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison will get the ball Tuesday in his final start of the regular season. He'll be looking to set a club record for a left-hander with 19 wins.

"I just want to do what I've tried to do all year, give us a chance to win by putting up as many zeros as possible," Harrison said. "That team is playing good baseball so it will be a tough start. But I feel confident I can go out and get the job done."

With an ERA of 3.26, Harrison could also become just the second pitcher in Rangers history to win 18 or more games and post a sub-3.30 ERA.

For Oakland, it's left-hander Travis Blackley (5-4, 4.00 ERA) taking the hill, after he allowed five runs on five hits in one inning his last time out. He struggled in his previous start, too, allowing four runs in two frames against the Yankees.

"The last time they just hit him, and that's going to happen," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "You have to keep having faith in him and confidence in him. We're going to continue to support him and have confidence in him, and if he has a bad game or two, that's not going to change how we feel about him."

Rangers: Beltre back in the lineup
• Adrian Beltre was back in the lineup Monday after he was removed from Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader with a strained left shoulder. Beltre started at designated hitter instead of third base.

"Everybody goes through stuff," Beltre said of the injury. "It's October. Everybody's got lingering injuries and stuff. It's not a big deal."

Beltre, who is hitting .319 with 36 homers and 101 RBIs, said he expects his shoulder to be sore for a few days, but he doesn't think it'll affect his play.

A's: Anderson throws bullpen
• Injured left-hander Brett Anderson threw a bullpen session on Monday, and Melvin was pleased enough that he says Anderson, who is recovering from a strained right oblique, is a candidate to start Friday's Wild Card game if the A's don't win the division.

"It went well, so we'll see how he feels tomorrow," Melvin said. "You have to take that one day by day, but we were encouraged to see him throw all his pitches."

Anderson has made six starts this season, going 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA. The other option Anderson for Friday appears to be rookie Tommy Milone.

Worth noting
• In 18 at-bats against Harrison, A's outfielder Coco Crisp is hitting .389 with a homer, a double and five RBIs.

• The Rangers have won five of the last six season series between these two clubs, but the A's could take the season series with a win Tuesday. They lead it, 9-8.

• Texas has posted just a 27-28 mark against AL West opponents this year. Comments