Pivotal 7th inning has team close to title

OAKLAND, Calif. -- When Rangers outfielder Jeff Francoeur started to dig in at home plate to start the seventh inning, the Rangers were clinging to a 2-1 lead after the A's had scored in the bottom of the sixth.

Francoeur, acquired for Joaquin Arias in a trade just before the Aug. 31 postseason eligibility deadline, belted a homer that immediately got the run back the Rangers lost. It served as the jarring hit that kicked open a door to a big inning the Rangers hadn't seen in a while.

"We need that inning," Francoeur said. "I think we let a lot of frustration out in that inning. It's fun now. You know you're one game away. To come in tomorrow and take care of business would be a perfect thing for us to be able to enjoy it and celebrate it. Since I've been here, I've absolutely enjoyed playing with these guys. It's enjoyable to be able to contribute."

Jorge Cantu followed Francoeur's homer with a double and after the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs, Vladimir Guerrero blasted one to deep center field to clear them. It was another moment the Rangers had been searching for on this road trip: a key two-out at-bat.

"I just came in after last night and refocused on today," said Guerrero through a translator. "We need to come out and play good baseball, put some runs up and let the pitching take care of it."

Francoeur and Guerrero accounted for six of the Rangers' 10 runs.

The Rangers ended up with five runs in the inning and added three more in the eighth thanks to five hits, including two doubles.

Other reaction:

* Tommy Hunter lobbied manager Ron Washington to keep him in the game in the sixth. Of course, while Hunter was making his case, Clay Rapada was already trotting in to pitch to left-handed hitting Jack Cust. Hunter told Washington that Cust had one hit in five games off Hunter and that he could get him. BTW, Cust is 2-for-9 with five strikeouts off Hunter in his career.

"I wanted to stay in the game," Hunter said. "I had just 78 pitches then. But I understand the move. Rapada has been money against lefties."

Hunter said everything was working for him on Friday and he felt particularly good out there. The sixth was really the only inning in which he got into any trouble. He kept the ball down, got plenty of easy outs and pitched efficiently.

* Rapada has nine appearances with Texas and has yet to allow a hit or run. He has four strikeouts and two walks in in 5 2/3 innings. And he certainly seems like a postseason roster addition with his throwing motion that clearly fools lefties.

* Every Rangers player in the game on Friday, except for pinch-runner Esteban German, got a hit. Nelson Cruz, Guerrero, Franecoeur, Bengie Molina, Ian Kinsler and Julio Borbon had at least 2 hits.

* Washington said he felt the sixth inning was where the momentum of the game would be decided. So that's why he went to Rapada with one out and runners on the corners despite Hunter's well-pitched game and limited pitch count. Washington didn't want Cust giving the A's the lead with one swing of the bat. Rapada got Cust on a strikeout and Daren O'Day gave up a run, but got out of the inning with the Rangers still in front. They then extended the lead in the seventh.

* Kinsler was 0-for-11 before he had a double in the fourth to end that skid. He ended up with two hits in the game.

* Borbon has seven hits in the last 12 at-bats (.583) and is batting .343 over his last 21 games.