OAKLAND – Daric Barton pumped his fist and let out a yell as the 2-2 pitch he hit from Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish easily cleared the wall in center field.
Of the four home runs the A's hit in their 11-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, it was perhaps the most surprising, if only because Barton had last homered at O.co Coliseum in July 2010, more than three years and several minor-league stints ago.
It gave the A's a 5-2 lead in the sixth and ended the day for Darvish, the Rangers' ace who leads the majors in strikeouts but has lost all three of his starts against Oakland this year.
The A's scored four more times in the inning, three on Josh Donaldson's homer off reliever Robbie Ross, to turn a close game into a rout and move back into a tie with the Rangers for first place in the American League West.
In the week before the teams begin a three-game series in Texas on Sept. 13, the schedule favors the A's. They play four games against the Houston Astros, who have baseball's worst record, and three games against the Minnesota Twins, who are well below .500. The Rangers have three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lead the tightly contested National League Central.
"The last couple times we played (the Astros), it's been a dogfight," Donaldson said. "We're going to have a tough task at hand coming up. We've got to stay in the moment."
With two off-days before Sept. 13, the Rangers could have Darvish face the A's again in Texas. But the A's have given him trouble. Darvish's career ERA against Oakland increased to 4.85 Wednesday as he allowed a season-high-tying five runs.
"I think he brings out the best in us just because he's their No. 1," Donaldson said. "Up and down the lineup, I think guys had pretty good at-bats today."
They certainly made Darvish work, with the right-hander tying a career high with six walks.
Darvish walked Jed Lowrie with two outs in the first, and Brandon Moss followed with a two-run homer. Barton walked leading off the second and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Coco Crisp.
In the sixth, Alberto Callaspo drew a leadoff walk ahead of Barton, who hit his first home run since being recalled by the A's on Aug. 26.
Darvish was replaced by Ross, who faced four hitters, all of whom scored.
"If you get him on the run early, like any good starter, it seems like you have a better chance," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Darvish. "Moss hits the home run and it looked like he had some command issues after that. I think it's just trying to get him out of sync early in games, and we've been able to do that a couple of times."
Crisp added a two-run homer in the eighth – his eighth in his last 14 games – as the A's emphatically ended the Rangers' streak of allowing five or fewer runs in 31 consecutive games, the longest streak in the majors since 2009 and the longest by an A.L. team since at least 1973.
Notes – Catcher Derek Norris (fractured toe) is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list today. That will give the A's three active catchers with Stephen Vogt and Kurt Suzuki, who has been starting against left-handed pitching in Norris' absence.
"It's going to be a tough call on who starts when a lefty's out there," Melvin said. "But it's a better problem to have than not enough guys. You could see them both."
Winning pitcher Jarrod Parker (11-6) extended his unbeaten streak to 18 starts, an Oakland-era record, one more than Catfish Hunter had in 1973.
Outfielder Josh Reddick (wrist) is swinging a bat with "no problems," but Melvin said the A's won't have a timetable for Reddick's return until he takes live batting practice.