OAKLAND, California — The Oakland Athletics are stunned by their September collapse, yet stuck to find a solution.
And with the way things are going, manager Bob Melvin can't talk about playoffs, let alone plan for them.
Sonny Gray and the A's kept tumbling Thursday, falling out of the top AL wild-card spot with a 7-2 loss to Texas that gave the Rangers a three-game sweep.
"It's not very fun. When you're in a race, it's supposed to be fun," left fielder Brandon Moss said. "But I don't see anyone in this clubhouse having any fun, because it's not. We're pretty frustrated. We're disappointed. But it's not over, and we know that."
The latest loss to the team with the worst record in the majors dropped the A's a half-game behind idle Kansas City for the first wild-spot slot. Oakland owned the best record in the big leagues as recently as Aug. 15.
"We're still in the wild card. All that's moot unless we start to play better. We'll find ourselves in no position if we continue to lose," Melvin said. "You've got to fight being beat down based on what has transpired here recently. ... It's tough sometimes to get over these things. They're all accountable for what they do. We all are."
Texas roughed up Gray (13-9) for four runs in the first inning and won its season-best sixth in a row. Oakland has lost six of eight.
Gray saw his winless stretch reach five starts. The right-hander in his first full major league season has only one victory in 10 starts since his 5-0 July that earned him AL pitcher of the month honors.
"It's these games we need to win and I think everyone knows that. It's tough to play away the last three days," Gray said. "Unfortunately for us, I dug us in a hole a little bit too deep. If you give up four in the first, nine times out of 10 you're not going to overcome that. It's probably easier said than done, but we honestly have got to put this behind us."
Nick Martinez (4-11) allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Leonys Martin hit an RBI double and the Rangers came out swinging for 15 total hits.
Texas got four straight two-out singles in the first, including RBI hits from Jake Smolinski, Tomas Telis and Ryan Rua. A passed ball added another for Texas. Smolinski had four hits, and the Rangers' rookies were 9 for 22.
This series was a far cry from the end of the 2012 season, when the A's stunned the Rangers by sweeping the final three games at the Coliseum to win the AL West.
Sam Fuld's RBI triple in the third accounted for Oakland's runs. The A's were outscored 19-6 in an embarrassing sweep and have struggled to support their starting pitchers during this long funk.
"I think if anyone had any answers it wouldn't be happening," Gray said. "Today was just ugly, it was bad."
The Rangers won again only hours after former manager Ron Washington publicly apologized in Texas, to wife of 42 years, Gerry, for breaking her trust. It was his first public comment since resigning Sept. 5.
"These are good teams we're beating but I think we can beat anyone if we continue to play the way we are capable," A's infielder Adam Rosales said. "I think they're pressing right now, trying to do too much. It's got to be tough on them."
Athletics: C Stephen Vogt still isn't ready to start, though he will test his sprained left ankle by running the bases Friday. ... RF Josh Reddick rested a day after a hard tumble that left him with a sore neck and injured left ankle. An MRI exam showed no break.
Rangers: RHP Lisalverto Bonilla (1-0) pitches the opener of a weekend series at AL West champion Los Angeles. Even with the division decided, the Rangers (60-92) are motivated to win the rest of the way. "It's a bad thing to lose 100 games," interim manager Tim Bogar said. "Is 99 much better? Well, it sounds much better — it looks, it sounds, it tastes."
Athletics: LHP Jon Lester (15-10) takes the mound at home in the interleague series opener with the Phillies, coming off a combined seven-hit shutout at Seattle last Sunday. He is 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four previous starts vs. Philadelphia.
Oakland is moving its Triple-A club from Sacramento to Nashville, reaching terms on a four-year player development contract.
"It's closer when you make a move on the road, not at home," Melvin said. "We'll tell our guys, 'If you're going to get hurt, make sure you get hurt on the road.'"
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