ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Beltre slowed down as he rounded first base, folded his arms and bent over to protect himself from the oncoming rush of Texas Rangers teammates.
Even though he's been hurting, Beltre keeps producing for the AL West leaders.
Beltre singled home the winning run in the ninth inning Monday night, after tying the game two innings earlier with his 35th homer, and the Rangers rallied past Oakland 5-4 to stretch their division lead over the Athletics to five games with nine to play.
When Beltre hit a hard grounder through the middle, sending home pinch-runner Craig Gentry, Rangers players poured out of the dugout and toward their third baseman, who is dealing with stomach pain caused by what doctors believe is scar tissue from appendix surgery more than a decade ago.
"This guy doesn't think about anything but doing what he has to do for his team, and he certainly came up big for us," manager Ron Washington said. "Come up in that situation with the bases loaded and not try to do anything but make hard contact, and he did. Just can't say enough about Adrian Beltre."
It was the first of seven meetings in the last 10 days of the regular season between the two-time defending AL champion Rangers and the A's, who have lost six of eight after winning 17 of 21.
Oakland has a two-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card.
"It's one game. We have to bounce back. We did that in both Detroit and New York. We lost some tough ones and bounced back," manager Bob Melvin said. "It would have been nice to start off with a win in the series, but you have to move on from it."
Surgery might be the only way for Beltre to ease his physical pain, but he has said that won't even be an option until after the season.
Beltre insists he's not playing hurt any more than anybody else right now. He was in top form for the opener of a big four-game series.
Yankees 6, Twins 3
At Minneapolis, Andy Pettitte turned in another ageless performance by pitching six scoreless innings and New York hit four home runs to beat Minnesota and extend its AL East lead.
The Yankees took a 11/2;-game edge over Baltimore, which split a doubleheader with Toronto. This is the first time since Sept. 2 their margin has been more than one game.
Curtis Granderson hit his 40th home run and Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez also homered as New York won for the 10th time in 12 games.
Pettitte (5-3) hasn't given up a run in 11 innings since rejoining the rotation last week.
Orioles 4, Blue Jays 1, 1st game Blue Jays 9, Orioles 5, 2nd game
At Baltimore, J.P. Arencibia broke open a tight game with a seventh-inning grand slam, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Baltimore to earn a doubleheader split and drop the Orioles 11/2; games out of first place in the AL East.
In the opener, Adam Jones went 4 for 4 with a homer to lead Baltimore. But the Orioles lost a half-game in the standings to the New York Yankees, who won 6-3 at Minnesota.
Arencibia, who came into the game mired in a 2-for-36 slump, had three hits and five RBIs. Edwin Encarnacion hit his 41st home run as Toronto ended a seven-game skid.
Ricky Romero (9-14) allowed four runs, eight hits and four walks in five-plus innings, yet stopped a 13-game losing streak over 15 starts since June 22.
Wei-Yin Chen (12-10) took the loss.
In the first game, rookie Steve Johnson (4-0) allowed three hits over five shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.62. Jim Johnson, the fifth Baltimore pitcher, worked the ninth for his major league-best 48th save in 51 opportunities.
Henderson Alvarez (9-14) took the loss.
White Sox 5, Indians 4
At Chicago, Adam Dunn homered twice, including a clutch three-run shot in the eighth inning, and the Chicago White Sox beat Cleveland to maintain their one-game lead in the AL Central.
Chicago snapped a five-game losing streak and stayed in front of second-place Detroit, which beat Kansas City 6-2. The top two teams in the division each have nine games left.
Tigers 6, Royals 2
At Detroit, Justin Verlander breezed through eight innings and Prince Fielder hit a solo homer, helping the Detroit Tigers steady themselves with a win over Kansas City.
The Tigers remained one game behind Chicago in the AL Central.
Verlander (16-8) had little trouble with the Royals, who knocked him around for eight runs and 12 hits last month. He allowed two runs and nine hits this time, striking out eight without a walk.
Luke Hochevar (8-15) yielded six runs and 12 hits in 71/3 innings.
Nationals 12, Brewers 2
At Washington, Jayson Werth wound up with a two-out, two-run double when Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez lost a ball in the sun to spark a six-run fourth inning Monday, and Washington beat Milwaukee 12-2 to cut its magic number for winning the NL East to five.
Jordan Zimmermann (12-8) allowed one run and four hits in 62/3 innings, while delivering two hits and driving in a run as a batter. Ryan Zimmerman produced three hits and four RBIs for the Nationals, who are a majors-best 93-60 and increased their division lead over the Atlanta Braves to five games with nine to play.
Mets 6, Pirates 2
At New York, Ike Davis connected twice and reached a career-high 30 homers, Jenrry Mejia pitched five effective innings for his first major league win and New York won its fourth straight.
Davis had a career-best five RBIs and Mejia (1-1) allowed four singles and two walks Monday. The right-hander struck out four and only his last out was made by an outfielder.
The Pirates lost for the 31st time in 43 games since improving to a season-high 16 games above .500 (63-47) on Aug. 8. They started the day 61/2; games back in the wild-card race with several teams ahead of them, and now need to win six of their last nine just to finish at break even.
Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen went 1 for 3 with a triple to keep his batting average at .336 — behind only Melky Cabrera, who is at .346 but has removed himself from consideration.
Cardinals 6, Astros 1
At Houston, Lance Lynn pitched seven innings to earn his 17th win, rookie Pete Kozma hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals strengthened their grip on a playoff spot.
Yadier Molina added a solo shot as the Cardinals moved 31/2; games in front of Milwaukee and Los Angeles for the second NL wild card. The Brewers lost 12-2 at Washington earlier in the day, and the Dodgers were off.
Lynn (17-7) struck out nine and yielded allowed one run and five hits. The right-hander is 4-0 with a sparkling 0.89 ERA in his last four outings, including a relief appearance against Milwaukee on Sept. 9.
Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 2
At Denver, Tyler Chatwood pitched effectively into the sixth inning and Andrew Brown homered.
Jason Kubel homered for the Diamondbacks, who have slim hopes of a late-season playoff push. Arizona fell 51/2; games behind St. Louis with nine remaining in the race for the second NL wild card.
Tyler Colvin and Charlie Blackmon had two hits each for Colorado. Rafael Betancourt worked the ninth for his 30th save.