Adam Melhuse hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the eighth inning and Erubiel Durazo went 3 for 4 and drove in a big insurance run to give the Oakland Athletics a 7-6 victory over the visiting Texas Rangers last night and first place in the American League West Division.

A series of Athletics relievers turned an early slugfest into a tight game. The Oakland bullpen accounted for six scoreless innings from the third to the eighth.

"Our bullpen has been light's out lately," Oakland starter Kirk Saarloos said. "The thing about them is they got a different array of pitches. They're a bunch of guys with different expertise. Tonight they were outstanding."

Mark McLemore homered for the first time since May 23, 2003, and drove in three runs to help Oakland win its sixth straight and move into first for the first time since July 6.

In moving past the Rangers, the Athletics improved to 7-3 against Texas this season. The Rangers have lost three straight and five of six.

Texas led the division by 41/2 games after beating Oakland last Friday. It was the biggest lead any team has had in the AL West this season, and now it is gone thanks to yet another post-all-star break surge by the Athletics.

* TIGERS 3, WHITE SOX 2: Jason Johnson, a former Oriole, yielded three hits over six innings as Detroit handed visiting Chicago its fifth straight loss.

Johnson (8-8) allowed both runs to get his fourth win in five decisions.

Four relievers gave up two hits over the last three innings for Detroit, with Ugueth Urbina pitching a perfect ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances.

Scott Schoeneweis (6-8) allowed five hits and three runs, two earned, in 51/3 innings for the White Sox. He walked four and struck out five.

* DEVIL RAYS 2, ROYALS 0: Rob Bell and three relievers combined on a four-hitter, and Tino Martinez had three hits and an RBI to lead host Tampa Bay.

Bell (4-4) struck out three and walked two in 61/3 scoreless innings in the Devil Rays' third straight win following a six-game losing streak. Jesus Colome and Trever Miller pitched a scoreless 12/3 innings, and Danys Baez threw a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 22 opportunities.

The Devil Rays outscored the Royals 18-3 in sweeping the three-game series.

Kansas City has lost seven straight and has scored just 11 runs over the stretch.

Mike Wood (1-3) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He is 0-3 in five starts since winning his first start of the season June 29.

Rocco Baldelli had a run-scoring grounder and Martinez hit an RBI single to put the Devil Rays up 2-0 in the third.

Wood kept the Royals within two runs by inducing an inning-ending double play by Toby Hall with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Kansas City had runners on first and third with one out in the second, but failed to score. Bell struck out Dee Brown and retired Alberto Castillo on a grounder.

The Royals went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Plate umpire Tim Tschida warned both benches after Wood threw a pitch that wound up belt-high behind Hall in the fourth. Kansas City's David DeJesus reached base when he was grazed by a pitch from Bell leading off the first.