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08/06/10 10:42 PM ET

Rangers making AL West anything but wild

The Rangers are simply running away from their competition in the American League West.

With their 5-1 win over the division-rival A's on Friday, the Rangers now have a 9 1/2-game lead in the AL West over second-place Oakland, which is the largest such lead in baseball.

Texas will look to build on that on Saturday with right-hander Rich Harden on the mound, starting opposite A's left-hander Gio Gonzalez at the Oakland Coliseum.

Harden, who is 4-3 with a 5.25 ERA this season, made his first start since June 11 on Saturday against the Angels, and he certainly looked like he was back in top form.

Harden had missed nearly two months with a left gluteal muscle strain but allowed just one run over seven innings to pick up his first victory since June 1.

"Rich had been telling us he was ready," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We certainly needed him to do what he did. He put zeros on the scoreboard, gave us seven strong innings and made it hold up."

It was an encouraging sign for the Rangers, who hope that Harden will help them down the stretch as they try to fend off the A's and Angels.

"It would be a huge boost," Washington said. "We have a pitcher ... a guy who has been through it before. We never gave up on Rich Harden. He had some things to straighten out and straightened them out."

Gonzalez, meanwhile, will try to get the A's a much-needed win against the division leaders, and he's coming off one of his best starts of the season.

He tossed an eight-inning complete game against the White Sox on Sunday, striking out 11 batters but was saddled with the loss after allowing a four-run fifth inning. But Gonzalez did throw six perfect frames that game and has been hot recently, as he is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA over his last eight starts.

"That's the best I've seen him," A's manager Bob Geren said on Sunday. "He was attacking the strike zone and throwing his curveball for strikes. Solid performance, really. He did a good job."

Rangers Treanor getting there
Catcher Matt Treanor, who has been out since July 24 with a sprained left knee, has been hitting and throwing recently, and feels he's getting closer to returning.

"It's a battle working through the injury, but the progress has been good," Treanor said. "The whole idea is to come back and be fully functional. The idea is to be ready to play on a rehab assignment and when I come back, be able to play as if nothing happened."

A's: Rosales adds to resume
Utility man Adam Rosales, who has made appearances at five different positions this season, added a new role on Friday when he served as the club's designated hitter but went 0-for-4 in Oakland's 5-1 loss.

"Any way I can get in the lineup," Rosales said.

Worth noting
The Rangers have outscored their opponents by 104 runs this season. Only twice in club history have the Rangers outscored their opponents by more than 100 runs. They were plus-129 in 1996 and plus-110 in '77. ... A's outfielder Conor Jackson, who has been on the disabled list since July 5 with a right hamstring strain, will take a big step on Sunday by playing three innings in his first rehab game. ... Roughly 160 friends and guests of A's reliever Craig Breslow gathered at the Anchor Steam Brewery on Wednesday in San Francisco to help raise funds for Breslow's Strike 3 Foundation, which benefits childhood cancer research.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.