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TEX@OAK: Young singles home Hamilton in the third

OAKLAND -- Michael Young has another 200-hit season and he has established a career high for RBIs. But he was happier that the Rangers' magic number is now down to four games.

"That's the most important number right now," Young said after his three-hit night helped carry the Rangers to a 7-2 victory over the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum on Tuesday night.

The Angels also won, but the Rangers still have a five-game lead in the American League West with eight to play. They are getting closer to turning next week's three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim into a meaningless affair.

"We're trying to win every game and keep the Angels from being able to do something crazy when we get to L.A.," said third baseman Adrian Beltre, who gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead with a three-run home run in the first inning. "We hope to clinch it before then, but if not, we'll do it there."

The Rangers have two more games with the Athletics and three with the Mariners this weekend in Arlington before facing the Angels. That puts them in position to possibly clinch a second straight division title before they get on a plane to Anaheim next week.

They would love nothing more than to wrap it up at the Ballpark in Arlington this weekend.

"We'll get it done," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "When we get it done ... we'd like to get it done as soon as possible. We'd like to do it at home; that would be awesome. But we just need to win tomorrow."

The victory, their 12th in 17 games this month, also raised the Rangers' record to 89-65, tying them with the Tigers for the second-best record in the AL. Because the Tigers won the season series between the two, the Rangers have to finish with a better record to get a least the second seed and home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"We still have to go out and play every day until they give us something that says we're in the postseason," manager Ron Washington said. "We haven't accomplished anything yet."

If the Rangers do make the playoffs, count on Derek Holland being in the rotation. He continues to be right there with C.J. Wilson as the Rangers' most reliable starter down the stretch. He held the Athletics to one run on two hits over seven innings and is now 9-1 with a 2.63 ERA in his last 14 starts.

"He's a very confident young man right now," Washington said. "Tonight he showed heart, he showed guts. He went out there and gave us seven good innings even though his command was erratic. He was still able to make pitches when he had to. That's another sign of his maturity."

Holland, 15-5 with a 3.92 ERA, did walk three batters but struck out seven. He also did not allow the Athletics even one at-bat with a runner in scoring position. Their only runs came on Michael Taylor's fifth-inning home run and Coco Crisp's ninth-inning homer against Michael Kirkman.

"I knew I was erratic, mainly with my fastball," Holland said. "I was getting the ball up, but I was able to make an adjustment and get the ball down with my offspeed stuff. The main thing was to be able to settle down and get things under control."

The game also had individual significance for Young. He was 3-for-5 with two RBIs, giving him 104 on the season. That's a new career high and the three hits left him with 201. That's the sixth time he has had at least 200 hits in his career and the first time since 2007.

Two-out singles by Josh Hamilton and Young off Oakland starter Rich Harden set up Beltre, who smashed a 1-1 fastball well above the center-field wall for his 28th home run. It was also his eighth home run in the last nine games. He is the first Rangers hitter to hit eight home runs in a nine-game stretch since Rafael Palmeiro in 1999.

"I'm seeing good pitches and I'm not missing pitches," Beltre said. "I'm making good solid contact and the ball is going out of the park. I'll take it for the rest of the way."

The Rangers ended up scoring six runs in three innings off Harden, who is 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA in three starts against his former team. The Rangers have won 11 of their last 12 games against the Athletics.

"I think the fact that they got on us early got us in a little bit of a defensive mode," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "They scored some runs early in the game, and now they have a starting pitcher that's had some success and pitched well against us, so it can get you on your heels a little bit. But I think we're all tired of getting beat by Texas."

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