CLEVELAND -- The Rangers went into Sunday's game with a record of 78-54. That's the second-best record for the Rangers after 132 games in club history. But the Rangers have not been able to shake off the surprising Oakland Athletics. Instead, the Rangers have lost 2 1/2 games off their lead in the last four days.
The A's took an eight-game winning streak into Sunday and have won 14 of their past 16, leaving them just three games behind the Rangers in the American League West. The two teams have seven more games against each other.
"They're hot," manager Ron Washington said. "It's September 2 and they're three games out, you've got to figure they're real. We'll see how real they are when 162 games are over.
'They have young pitching that's been good all year and they have players not under pressure to produce. They've all been good Minor League players, and now they're jelling. And they've got a good manager. People always wonder about their run production, now they're scoring so many runs right now ... they're doing well. They feel good about themselves. They're doing a good job."
The Rangers play the A's seven times in the last 10 days of the season. The A's come to Arlington Sept. 24-27 and the Rangers go to Oakland to close out the season on Oct. 1-3.
"We've got seven games left with them," Washington said. "We'll find out. It should be fun."
Kinsler scratched due to back stiffness
CLEVELAND -- Ian Kinsler was scratched from Sunday's lineup with tightness in his lower back. He was replaced at second base by rookie Jurickson Profar.
Kinsler is listed as day-to-day, and could be back in the lineup on Monday when the Rangers open a four-game series with the Royals in Kansas City. Kinsler started 128 of the Rangers' first 132 games this season, including 118 at second base. The other 10 were at designated hitter.
Kinsler, who was available off the bench, went into Sunday's game hitting .198 in his last 24 games. He is hitting .234 in his last 41 games.
Oswalt remains in 'pen despite Feldman's struggles
CLEVELAND -- The Rangers thought there would be interest in pitcher Roy Oswalt before Friday's deadline to trade players and have them eligible for the postseason. The Dodgers and the Nationals were among the teams reportedly looking for starting pitching.
Instead, the Rangers found there wasn't much interest in Oswalt, and he remains in their bullpen as a long reliever. Scott Feldman remains in the rotation, despite going 0-5 with a 6.35 ERA in his past five starts, and the Rangers aren't contemplating a change.
"If some new thing is an issue, you'll know," manager Ron Washington said. "Right now, there are no issues."
Oswalt is 4-2 with a 5.94 ERA in eight starts and three relief appearances since signing with the Rangers at the end of May. He has not pitched since a spot start against the Twins on Aug. 23.
"We probably have to get him in there at some point, but sometimes when you try to get your long reliever innings, something comes back to bite you," Washington said.
Oswalt was warming up in the first inning on Saturday night. Feldman allowed four runs that inning and Washington said he was one batter away from coming out of the game. But Feldman, after allowing the first five hitters to reach base, retired 18 of the last 20 hitters he faced and got the Rangers through six innings.
Borbon unlikely to play in Majors this season
CLEVELAND -- Julio Borbon was the Rangers' Opening Day center fielder in both 2009 and 2010. This year, it does not appear as if he will play one game in the Major Leagues.
Borbon was passed over by the Rangers when they announced their September callups on Friday night. Unless there is an injury, Borbon's season will end on Monday when Triple-A Round Rock plays its final game.
Borbon went into Sunday hitting .301 with a .346 on-base percentage and a .432 slugging percentage this season. But the Rangers have gone through an entire season without a significant injury in the outfield. They called up Leonys Martin from Round Rock when first baseman Mitch Moreland was on the disabled list, but he only started 11 games while he was with the Rangers from June 15 to July 30.
"I think we feel Julio had a very good season for us at Triple-A," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "When we put together our September callup list, he was actively discussed. But given the playing time our outfielders are getting, we decided to call up only one outfielder and Leonys was a little more ahead of him.
"This is the first season that Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz have gone through a whole season without injury, and Julio is a casualty of that. We still feel he is good for the depth in our outfield as we go into 2013."
The Rangers probably would have been willing to include Borbon in a trade earlier this season, but did not receive much interest in him. He will be out of options next season, meaning he has to be on the Opening Day roster or exposed to outright waivers.
Murphy close to qualifying among hitting leaders
CLEVELAND -- David Murphy went into Sunday's game hitting .317. That would be fifth-highest in the American League, but Murphy doesn't have enough plate appearances yet to qualify for the batting title or be listed among the league leaders.
The rules require a player to have 3.1 plate appearances for every game his team has played. The Rangers went into Sunday having played 132 games. That means Murphy needed 409 plate appearances. He had 407.
"That's not my quest," Murphy said. "We're playing to win a division title. It would be cool to qualify, but at the end of the day, it doesn't get you any more wins."
Murphy has never had enough plate appearances to qualify, but should this year. He remains one of the Rangers' hottest hitters. He went into Sunday hitting .436 (24-for-55) in his past 15 games with five doubles, a triple, two home runs, nine RBIs and 14 runs scored. He is hitting .358 since the All-Star break, the third-highest average in the Major Leagues.
• Rangers manager Ron Washington on the drastic shift being used against Mitch Moreland, a left-handed pull hitter: "I want him to approach it with confidence that he can hit through it or over it, or if they pitch him that way, go the other way. I don't want him to change his style. He's capable of hitting the other way, I don't want him to force it."
• Koji Uehara pitched on both Friday and Saturday night. It's only the third time this season that Uehara has pitched in back-to-back games. Uehara gave up a two-run home run to Casey Kotchman on Friday night, but pitched a scoreless eighth on Saturday. Washington said he wanted to get Uehara back out there to regain his confidence.
• Third baseman Adrian Beltre was the Rangers Player of the Month for August, hitting .500 (20-for-40) with six doubles, seven home runs and 15 RBIs in his last 10 games.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.