ANAHEIM -- For a couple of months, when the A's watched the scoreboard, their eyes drifted naturally toward the Texas Rangers. It was important to see how the American League West competition was doing.

For a couple of days, the focus has been on the Detroit Tigers.

Now it's time for Oakland to check out the Boston Red Sox and the chance to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Or it would be if the A's weren't so focused on each day.

"Home field advantage is great," A's starter A.J. Griffin said after coming out on the short end of a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. "But we're going to go out and try to win each game and whatever happens, happens."

What happened Tuesday was that Jason Vargas of the Angels shut down the hottest offense in baseball with a four-hit, one-walk complete game. Griffin pitched well enough, giving up three runs while getting to 200 innings for the first time.

"It's a milestone for a starting pitcher," he said. "It's satisfying. But we've got to keep things going with this club."

They do, because home-field advantage throughout the A.L. playoffs is almost within Oakland's grasp. The Red Sox have the A.L.'s best record at 95-63. The A's are at 94-64. That one-game deficit is what stands between the A's getting home-field advantage all the way through the playoffs and not.

There are a series of tiebreaking rules in place, and all four of them favor Oakland.


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  • The first is head-to-head, and the A's and Red Sox split the six games they played.

  • The second is intradivision results. Should Oakland and Boston finish with the same record, the top seed is the team with the best record in its own division. Assuming the two teams finish with the same record after 162 games, the best the Red Sox can do is finish in a tie with the A's.

  • The third is intraleague results (games against all A.L. teams). If the two teams finish with the same record after 162 games, the best the Red Sox can do, again, is tie the A's.

  • The fourth is the comparative records over the last half of intraleague games. This odd one measures the results over the last 71 games against American League competition only. And if the A's and Red Sox finish with the same record after 162 games, the A's will have a better record in all scenarios.

    "Right now we are trying to play for the best record and home-field advantage," A's first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss told Bay Area News Group readers in an exclusive online chat early Tuesday afternoon. "We want to be sure whoever we play, we play them at home more than at their place."

    The Red Sox lost earlier Tuesday evening to the Rockies in Colorado, 8-3, so the A's had a chance to jump into a tie for the home-field advantage with a win over the Angels in Anaheim.

    It didn't happen. A club that had won its last five games by a collective 49-19 score found itself cooled off most effectively by Vargas, who didn't allow a runner past first base.

    "It was like we had a second-day after clinching hangover," catcher Derek Norris said. "Yesterday we were going on adrenaline."

    Not so much Tuesday.

    Howie Kendrick hit a solo homer in the first and Josh Hamilton had a bloop two-run single in the third, both off Griffin, whose next start will be in the playoffs.

  • Josh Donaldson had a streak of 28 games reaching base safely end. It was the longest such streak for an A's hitter in the last five seasons.

  • Two of the four hits for Oakland came from Jed Lowrie, who pushed his average to .290.

  • Vargas's fifth career shutout was the first complete game shutout this season against the A's, who have been shut out 10 times in all.

  • With no games scheduled between the regular-season finale Sunday in Seattle and the start of the playoffs the following Friday, the club might have an intrasquad game or a simulated game in an effort to keep players fresh.

  • Talking before Tuesday's game, Melvin said that not all roster decisions had been made, although he jokingly allowed that Moss, the team home run leader, had made the roster. The A's almost certainly will go from five starting pitchers to four, and the club will have to decide if that means adding a starter to the bullpen or having a starter replace someone in the bullpen.

    For more on the A's, see John Hickey's Insider at blogs.ibabuzz.com/athletics. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JHickey3.

    WEDNESDAY'S GAME

    A's (Dan Straily 10-7)
    at L.A. Angels (Jered Weaver 10-8), 12:35 p.m. CSNCA