Inside the Race: Can Rangers keep pace?

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Can the Rangers recover? They've lost two series in a row, the latest a three-game set at Oakland in which the A's won the rubber game in decisive fashion, 11-4, dominating Yu Darvish and a struggling Rangers offense.

The American League West is a dead heat with 23 games left. The Rangers will try to turn their momentum against a Los Angeles team they have dominated this season. The A's start a four-game series Thursday night against the lowly Houston Astros.

Here's how the rest of the week sets up for the Rangers and A's:

Rangers (80-59, .586, Tied for first)

Next up: Friday-Sunday at the Los Angeles Angels, The Big A in Anaheim

Opponents' record: The Angels are 64-74, 15 1/2 games back in the AL West

The latest: The Rangers' best players didn't produce in a series loss to Oakland this week that included an ugly 11-4 loss Wednesday that saw ace Yu Darvish fall apart. It wasn't just Darvish. The Rangers' offense was 5-for-30 with runners in scoring position for the three-game series against Oakland. That's not going to get it done.

Forecast: The Rangers have played well against the Angels, winning their last seven games against the Halos and going 10-2 overall against their rivals. Texas swept a three-game series in Anaheim in early August. The Angels have been playing better lately, but they lost their last two games at home to Tampa Bay. The Rangers will turn to Matt Garza on Friday night against an old friend, C.J. Wilson.

Athletics (80-59, .586, Tied for first)

Next up: Thursday-Sunday vs. Houston, O.com Coliseum

Opponents' record: The Astros are 46-93, 34 games back in the AL West

The latest: The A's have momentum on their side after this week's series against the Rangers and their resounding win Wednesday. Oakland is 13-3 against Houston, including three three-game sweeps. But the Astros did win two out of three from the A's in Oakland last month. A's rookie Sonny Gray will get the ball in Thursday's opener against Houston's Brad Peacock. Gray is 2-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings at home.

Forecast: The A's will be back in first place alone at the end of the weekend. Yes, Houston played Oakland tough the last time on the road, but the A's will rebound and win another series and take a half-game lead in the division.