OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Texas Rangers clinched the AL West title Saturday and their first playoff berth in 11 years, beating the Oakland Athletics 4-3 on Jorge Cantu’s tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning.
Players streamed from the Texas dugout after closer Neftali Feliz retired Cliff Pennington on a fly ball to left field for the final out with the potential tying run on second base.
Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, who has been sidelined with broken ribs for three weeks, hugged teammates and jumped up and down near third base as a mob of players celebrated.
The Rangers became the second big league club to lock up a postseason spot this season, joining the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins.
Texas is the only current major league franchise never to win a playoff series. The Rangers won three AL West crowns from 1996-99, their only postseason appearances, but lost in the first round to the New York Yankees each time.
Cantu hit a solo shot in the eighth, his first home run since being traded from Florida to Texas in July, and the Rangers hung on.
After the final out, manager Ron Washington and his staff hugged players as they came off the field. Reserve infielder Andres Blanco fired his hat into a crowd of Rangers fans waiting behind the team’s dugout.
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