Rangers 10, Athletics 3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ The Texas Rangers finally won the AL West on their own, and they did it in grand style.
Rafael Palmeiro hit Texas’ second grand slam in as many games, powering the Rangers to a 10-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday that clinched their third division title in four years.
This was the first time Texas put itself over the top. In 1996 and ’98, the Rangers learned they were champs during games they eventually lost.
After Ryan Christenson grounded out to end the game, Rusty Greer, Tom Goodwin, Juan Gonzalez, Royce Clayton and Mark McLemore locked arms and jumped around in a circle around second base. A flag was unfurled in center field reading: ``Texas Rangers 1999 AL West Champions.″
Oakland came to The Ballpark needing a big weekend to remain in contention for the playoffs. Instead, the A’s were outscored 32-11 and ran their losing streak to four, their highest since late June.
Oakland’s wild-card hopes are dim as Boston’s magic number dropped to two despite the Red Sox losing 8-5 to Baltimore.
Todd Zeile, whose grand slam helped Texas clinch a tie Saturday, seemed to put this game away with a two-run homer that capped a four-run fifth inning and knocked out Oakland starter Kevin Jarvis (0-1).
An inning later, Palmeiro added the final touch when his 46th homer of the year drilled the right-field foul pole and ricocheted onto the field. McLemore danced home from third base with his arms raised as the Rangers reached double figures in runs for the third straight game.
Palmeiro, who upped his RBI total to 146, calmly trotted the bases and accepted congratulations from teammates without much fuss after his third grand slam of the year. The crowd of 38,656 remained on their feet until he climbed to the top step of the dugout and waved his batting helmet.
Esteban Loiaza (9-5) worked out of his only jam in the third and lasted seven innings in his best outing in a month. Loiaza, who had lost four of his last five starts, allowed one run, four hits and struck out seven.
The game was hardly ever in doubt as Greer sent Jarvis’ ninth pitch back through the pitcher’s legs for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead. Gonzalez also singled home a run in the inning.
Jason Giambi’s RBI single got Oakland within 3-1 in the fourth, but the Rangers rallied for four in the fifth.
Gonzalez’s first triple of the year drove in the first run, then he scored on a throwing error by second baseman Randy Velarde when Palmeiro got trapped in a rundown while trying to steal second.
Two pitches later, Zeile hit his 24th homer into the left-field stands not far from where his grand slam landed.
Jarvis, recalled from Triple-A Vancouver before the game to make his first big-league start since August 1997, gave up six runs _ five earned _ and nine hits over 4 1-3 innings.
Ben Grieve hit a two-run homer in the eighth for Oakland.
This was the second time the Rangers clinched a title at home. They also did it in 1996, but in a bizarre way: they were in the 13th inning of a 15-inning loss to the Angels when they got word that second-place Seattle had lost.
Last year, Texas came off the field after the eighth inning of a 15-4 loss in Seattle to learn that Anaheim had lost, sealing the division crown.
The Rangers have played the New York Yankees in both postseasons and are 1-6. The teams are on pace to meet again.
Notes: This is the second time this season the Rangers have hit grand slam in consecutive games. They had never done it before this year. ... Oakland is on its biggest losing streak since dropping six straight June 23-29. ... Palmeiro’s homer was Texas’ 222nd of the year, breaking the team record set in 1996. ... Vancouver, Oakland’s top minor-league team, won Triple-A World Series in five games over Charlotte.