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Rangers close to within two in West

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The way David Dellucci's luck had been
going at the plate, he figured his hard-hit liner would be caught
for the final out.

"I went from frustration to elation," he said.

Dellucci's hit was just out of the reach of a diving Jermaine
Dye, and skipped into the right-field corner. The double drove home
two runs to give the Texas Rangers a 5-4 win over Oakland on
Thursday and a three-game sweep of the Athletics.

"We knew we had to do that," said Brian Jordan, who scored the
winning run. "It definitely does a lot for our confidence."

Texas, a surprise contender after four straight last-place
finishes, moved within two games of the AL West-leading Athletics
with 10 to play. The Rangers have won five in a row and 10 of 13.

Hank Blalock hit a solo homer with one out in the ninth, his
32nd to pull the Rangers to 4-3 against Octavio Dotel (4-2).

Then the stage got set for Dellucci, who was in a 5-for-44 slump
and had been robbed of a hit two innings earlier. But Dye couldn't
take another hit away.

"The way he hit it, it had a lot of hook on it. It was a
do-or-die play," Dye said. "I had to dive and try to make the
play. If not, it was going to the wall anyway."

Before Dellucci's winner, Michael Young doubled for his fourth
hit and Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked, his team-record
fifth walk of the game. Jordan reached on a forceout.

"I made sure to get to home plate and score. That turns the day
around," said Jordan, who was 0-for-5. "I rounded second base,
and I heard the fans cheering."

Mark Kotsay, Adam Melhuse and Bobby Crosby homered for the
Athletics (87-63), who lead both Texas and Anaheim by two games.
Oakland plays at the Angels this weekend, and the Rangers host
Seattle.

Texas opened its final series against the A's with wins over
All-Star starter Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. This was the 22nd time
Mulder, Zito and Tim Hudson started in the same three-game series
during their five seasons together. Only twice before -- both at the
New York Yankees -- had the A's been swept, in April 2001 and April
2004.

"We're still in pretty good position. I'd rather be two games
up than two games back," said Hudson, who held Texas to two runs
over seven innings. "We lost a tough one, it's going to happen.
... We've played the whole year for 10 games."

Crosby's 21st homer, leading off the ninth against Jeff Nelson
(1-2), gave the A's a 4-2 lead.

Kotsay homered leading off the game. Then, with two on in the
seventh, Kotsay ran to the warning track and made a jumping catch
against the center-field wall to grab Dellucci's fly. That was
Hudson's final batter.

After a 1-2-3 first, Hudson had to deal with runners every other
inning. The Rangers left 10 runners on against him, two each in
four innings, as Hudson scattered seven hits and matched a season
high with five walks, one intentional.

Dotel took over after Jim Mecir pitched a perfect eighth.

"We never predict if we will win or lose. We always play to the
end of the game," Young said. "That's a huge strength of this
club."

Young doubled twice in his 67th multihit game and has 205 hits,
five short of the team season record.

Scott Hatteberg had a one-out double in the sixth off Erasmo
Ramirez, and Dye followed with a single that gave Oakland a 3-2
lead.

Kotsay and Melhuse had solo homers off Chan Ho Park, who left
after five innings and just 78 pitches. Crosby's 21st homer led off
the ninth against Nelson.

Kotsay hit the game's third pitch off the facade of the second
deck of stands in right field, a 401-foot shot for his 15th homer,
the fourth leading off. Melhuse's one-out homer in the fifth tied
it at 2.

Melhuse, catching because Damian Miller caught Wednesday night,
went 3-for-3 with a walk. Kotsay was 2-for-4 with a walk, his
seventh multihit game during a 10-game hitting streak.

The Rangers led 2-1 in the third after a leadoff double by Eric
Young, whose first homer of the season Wednesday night was the
tiebreaker in Texas' 5-3 win. After going to third on a groundout,
Young scored on Michael Young's infield hit.

Texas tied the game at 1-all on Laynce Nix's RBI single in the
second. Dellucci beat the throw to first to avoid an inning-ending
double play and moved to second when Kevin Mench walked before
Nix.

Game notes
The Rangers will begin selling playoff tickets Saturday.
... Oakland still won the season series for the third straight
year, 11-9. ... Kotsay has four leadoff homers this season, seven
in his career.