OAKLAND — Nelson Cruz is trying to make every moment in the majors count right now. Every plate appearance could be his last for a while.
Cruz shook off talk of a pending suspension to hit a tying two-run homer, Jurickson Profar added another two-run shot and the surging Texas Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 8-3 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.
“It's hard to deal with it. You have to be able to separate it,” Cruz said. “It's kind of easy when you come to the ballpark to focus on the team and focus on winning.”
Cruz, who is among 14 players facing a possible suspension as part of Major League Baseball's Biogenesis investigation, hit his 26th home run of the season in the second inning to turn the momentum in the opener of a critical division series. Profar put the Rangers ahead 6-2 with his fourth homer in the fourth.
The Rangers, who were six games behind Oakland in the AL West earlier this week, are only 2 1/2 games back.
“The offense just woke up at the right time,” Cruz said. “We've been quiet for a while. It's a good time to wake up.”
Brandon Moss' two-run double in the first gave the A's the lead, but Tommy Milone (9-9) struggled on the mound and Oakland stranded 10 runners to lose its third in a row. Milone (9-9) allowed six runs — including both homers — and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings.
“That was pretty terrible,” Milone said. “They did a good job of hitting my mistakes. I didn't make that big pitch.”
After going 32 days without gaining ground on Oakland, the Rangers are making up for lost time. Texas has gained 3 1/2 games in the division in four days.
Rangers manager Ron Washington also matched Bobby Valentine for the most wins by a manager in franchise history. Washington, the longtime A's third-base coach, is 581-501 in seven seasons.
All the good vibes still come in the shadow of a looming investigation that could deliver a major setback.