ARLINGTON, Texas -- The A's too often have been their own worst enemy this season with untimely breakdowns.
When their self-destructive side surfaces against the major leagues' best team, it's a combustible combination.
A five-run Texas Rangers rally, fueled by two errors, spelled doom for the A's on Saturday in a 7-2 loss before a sellout crowd of 46,711 at Rangers Ballpark.
The A's have dropped the first three of this four-game set against Texas, which sports the majors' top record at 50-29. Most disappointing for the A's is that they positioned themselves well enough to win all three.
"If a team just clobbers you and beats you around the ballpark, that's one thing," A's third baseman Brandon Inge said. "But these are games we actually, to a certain part of the game, felt like we had. Those are tough to give away."
A's manager Bob Melvin had said he wasn't getting caught up thinking about the implications of this series on the American League West race.
But the hard facts are that three straight losses have dropped the A's a season-high 13 games off the pace in the division.
It may have been pie-in-the-sky thinking to believe the A's (37-42) could thrust themselves back into contention, given the Rangers and Los Angeles Angels are playing so well.
But now it's worth considering whether this series persuades A's officials to become all-out sellers as the July 31 trade deadline creeps closer.
The A's led 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth. But things began going downhill when Inge booted Nelson Cruz's grounder to lead off the inning.
Left-hander Tommy Milone (8-6) looked as if he might escape a jam when he had two outs with runners on second and third, but Ian Kinsler blooped a two-run single to left field to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
Shortstop Brandon Hicks, whose defense earned praise from Melvin before the game, then let Elvis Andrus' grounder clank off his glove for an error to put two runners on base for Josh Hamilton. The slugger promptly deposited a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left-center for a three-run homer that put the A's in a 6-2 hole.
"It was supposed to be a cutter, but it was kind of flat and up in the zone," Milone said.
He was pulled after five innings. He struck out six, walked none, and five of his six runs were unearned. The A's committed three errors.
Three walks from reliever Grant Balfour in the eighth inning Friday opened the door to Texas' winning rally. After Saturday's game, Melvin lamented the walks and errors that have plagued his team in the Lone Star State.
"You can't do that here," he said. "That's something you emphasize. You know that. With that lineup, in this ballpark, you can't give them three errors."
Carter went 2 for 4 with a strikeout and pop out in his final two at-bats. Despite Carter's two homers so far, Melvin said he intended to stick with his plan and start Brandon Moss against right-hander Yu Darvish on Sunday.
"We do know there's going to be a learning curve with him," Melvin said. "There's going to be some plays that may be tougher reads. But we feel like all things considered, he's got a chance to be a nice weapon for us (in left), cutting runs off at the plate, keeping guys from going first to third and second to home."
Rookie closer Ryan Cook, who has a 1.59 ERA in 34 appearances, is considered the favorite to be the A's representative, with right fielder Josh Reddick second after him.
ESPN had its panel of baseball writers pick their own All-Star squads. Tim Kurkjian and Jayson Stark picked Cook, and Jerry Crasnick chose Reddick, but Jim Bowden and David Schoenfield picked starting pitcher Jarrod Parker.
Parker's 2.57 ERA leads A.L. rookies with a minimum of 70 innings pitched, but he has just four wins, and Melvin said he's hesitant to push a candidate who hasn't been on the big league roster the entire season.