OAKLAND —Unlike early September last year, the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers are neck and neck chasing the AL West title. Both clubs are ready for this race to go right down to the end — again.
Coco Crisp hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth that was confirmed by a video review, and the A's pulled into a first-place tie with Texas by beating the Rangers 4-2 on Monday.
"You enjoy the race," A's closer Grant Balfour said. "I'd like to say we're sitting here 10 games up."
Yoenis Cespedes homered leading off the second inning and Chris Young added an RBI single in Oakland's fourth straight win. David Murphy hit a tying two-run shot in the Texas fifth for his first homer since Aug. 1. But the Rangers loaded the bases against Dan Otero with one out in the sixth and couldn't deliver.
Crisp set a career high with his 17th homer that stayed just fair of the left-field foul pole, topping his 16 for Cleveland in 2005. He homered for the third straight game to help the A's (79-58) move a season-best 21 games over .500.
"I didn't think it was going to stay fair," he said.
Crisp fouled a ball off the area below his right knee in the sixth. He stayed in and struck out, and then was removed for what the team called a shin contusion. Crisp said he felt fine afterward.
With so much at stake, he will do all he can to stay on the field.
"It's a back and forth that kind of pumps your blood a little bit," Crisp said. "Obviously you want to be close or you want to be in front, in first place or as far in front as possible. We're fortunate we're in the situation we are now."
A's lefty reliever Brett Anderson, pitching at home for the first time since April 29, worked a 10-pitch seventh, helped by Ian Kinsler's inning-ending double play. Ryan Cook worked out of a jam in the eighth.
Balfour, after giving up a walk and a single to start the ninth, finished for his 36th save in 38 tries as the Rangers left the tying run at second.
"I was running on fumes," Balfour said of pitching for the fourth time in five days. "I was just trying to pitch with some guts."
Oakland won for the seventh time in eight games and is hoping for another strong September like its 17-11 showing last year on the way to the West crown on the final day.
The Rangers, who were unable to hold off streaking Oakland last year, fell out of sole possession of first place for the first time since Aug. 9, the last time the A's shared the lead.
"I expect it to go all the way down to the end. Division champs over there," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
"I don't expect them to go away and I certainly don't expect us to go away. Everything goes through Oakland."
If Washington intended to put a target on the A's, manager Bob Melvin quipped, "I'll flip it back to him."
The Rangers had their three-game road winning streak snapped with just their third defeat in the last 15 games away from Arlington.