(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers can secure their first American League West crown since 1999 this evening, when they play the third test of their four-game series against the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum. After losing the first game of this series, Texas bounced back on Friday as Vladimir Guerrero homered and drove in four runs to lead the Rangers to a 10-3 win. Jeff Francoeur had three hits, including his first home run for the Rangers, and drove in runs two and scored twice for Texas, which lowered its magic number over Oakland to two to clinch their first postseason spot in 11 years.
"[The Athletics] are going to stay in the game all the way through, it's going to be tough, but we want to [clinch] as soon as possible," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said of the series. "They're young, they like to play the game and they have good pitchers." Texas starter Tommy Hunter (13-4) went only 5 1/3 innings last night, but limited the A's to one run and six hits to win for the first time in four starts. Oakland's Bobby Cramer (2-1) received his first big-league loss for allowing four runs on eight hits over six-plus innings. Jeremy Hermida went 4-for-4 with an RBI in the setback, the second in three games for the A's.
Heading to the hill for the Rangers today will be left-hander Derek Holland, who is 3-4 with a 4.56 earned run average. Holland was charged with the loss on Monday in Anaheim, as he allowed four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He also walked three batters in the loss, his fourth in his last five decisions. Holland will be making his third start against the A's and is 1-1 with a 2.85 ERA in five total appearances against them.
Oakland will rely on a young lefty of its own in Gio Gonzalez, who will take aim at his 15th win of the season this afternoon. Gonzalez was terrific on Monday against the Chicago White Sox, but did not factor in the decision of his team's win that night despite pitching six scoreless innings. Gonzalez, who is 14-9 with a 3.36 ERA on the year, had allowed seven runs in two innings of his previous start. He beat Texas back on August 29 and is 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA lifetime against them. Oakland leads the 2010 series with Texas by a 9-8 count and has won five of the last seven meetings. This is the final series of the 2010 campaign between the two AL West inhabitants.