Torii Hunter drove in two runs to back Jered Weaver's solid pitching and the Los Angeles Angels beat Texas 7-4 on Monday night, keeping the Rangers' magic number at six for clinching their first AL West title since 1999.
Weaver (13-11) allowed three runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings. Despite his won-lost record, which has been undermined by a severe lack of run support, the right-hander is having his best season statistically. Weaver has a 2.99 ERA and 220 strikeouts, second-most in the majors behind Felix Hernandez (222).
Los Angeles got RBI doubles from Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick and Bobby Abreu in the fourth.
As a result of Oakland's 3-0 win over the Chicago White Sox, the Rangers still lead the Athletics by eight games with 13 to play — including a four-game road series against the A's that begins Thursday night. Texas entered this three-game set knowing it could eliminate the Angels from postseason contention by beating them twice.
David Murphy tied a career high with five hits in five at-bats and Chris Davis delivered the first pinch-hit homer of the season for the Rangers.
Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save after Davis homered in the eighth against Francisco Rodriguez.
Murphy, who came in 1 for 21 against Weaver, doubled in the fourth for the second of his four hits against the Angels' ace. Vladimir Guerrero reached on an infield single and Nelson Cruz followed with a single that tied it 1-all — his first career RBI against Weaver after 30 fruitless at-bats.
But the Angels regained the lead with three runs in the bottom half against Derek Holland (3-4). Brandon Wood walked and came all the way around on Mathis' double to right field over Cruz's head. Kendrick legged out an RBI double after his grounder up the middle caromed off Holland's right foot and into short left field.
Abreu followed with a towering fly toward the right-field corner that ended up as a ground-rule double after Cruz misjudged the ball on the warning track. That was all for Holland, whose pitching line would have been much worse if center fielder Julio Borbon hadn't robbed Juan Rivera of a grand slam in the third inning with the Angels ahead 1-0 on Wood's RBI single.
Holland was charged with four runs, six hits and three walks over 3 2-3 innings. The 23-year-old left-hander has won only four of 14 decisions over his last 15 starts since Aug. 26, 2009, including a 4-3 victory against the Angels on May 17.
Hunter made it 6-1 in the sixth with a two-run single against Dustin Nippert.
Murphy's seventh-inning single chased Weaver and loaded the bases for Guerrero, who drew a walk that forced in a run that capped a two-run rally. Pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui got one of the runs back in the bottom half with an RBI single to deep shortstop.
NOTES: Holland is the only pitcher to throw a shutout against the Angels in Anaheim during the last seven seasons, beating them 7-0 with a three-hitter on Aug. 9, 2009. It remains his only complete game in 30 big league starts. ... The Angels need to go no worse than 7-4 the rest of the way to avoid their second losing record in Mike Scioscia's 11 years as manager. The other was 2003, when they went 77-85 a year after winning the World Series. ... Rangers CF and major league batting leader Josh Hamilton, who had two cortisone shots last week to help relieve pain from the bruised ribs on his left side, was examined Monday in Los Angeles by Dr. Robert Watkins. The club expects to have Hamilton back before the postseason, and manager Ron Washington figures the slugger will need 25-30 at-bats to get back to his .361-hitting groove. "If we do make the playoffs and he doesn't get back until we get there, then he's just going to have to figure it out in the playoffs. But that's hypothetical, because we ain't won nothing yet," Washington said. ... With one more out, Weaver will equal his career high for innings (211).
(This version Corrects to three runs allowed by Weaver in 2nd paragraph)