Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer on Saturday and the Texas Rangers edged the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, at Rogers Centre.
Roy Oswalt got the start for Texas in place of Ryan Dempster, who is missing the three-game series due to personal reasons.
The 34-year-old Oswalt had been relegated to the bullpen since the Rangers acquired Dempster in a July 31 trade. Pitching on extended nine days rest, the veteran right-hander allowed just two hits and one run before being removed in the fifth inning with two down and a runner on second base.
"It went better than I thought it would. First couple of innings I felt really good and the ball kind of came up a little bit later," said Oswalt, who threw just 62 pitches.
Robbie Ross replaced Oswalt and retired Colby Rasmus to end the fifth. In the sixth, he allowed Toronto to load the bases with two down before striking out Anthony Gose with a full-count fastball.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases again an inning later, getting a ground-rule double from Adeiny Hechavarria and a single from Rajai Davis before Tanner Scheppers intentionally walked Edwin Encarnacion with one out.
Michael Kirkman (1-2) then induced two straight fly outs to escape the jam.
Mike Adams tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Joe Nathan set down the side in order in the ninth to secure his 24th save of the season.
"A tough ballgame," said Jays manager John Farrell. "We had an outstanding opportunity in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and just one out and couldn't cash in."
The American League West-leading Rangers had lost four of five entering Saturday but they went ahead for good in the top of the fifth when Cruz belted his 19th homer of the season. Adrian Beltre began the frame with high fly to right field, which fell in for an ground-rule double when Gose lost the ball in the sun.
The rookie outfielder did score the game's first run. He drew a one-out walk in the third, stole second, moved to third on a balk and crossed the plate on Hechavarria's single. It was the first career RBI for Hechavarria, who was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on August 4.
Carlos Villanueva (6-3) took the loss, allowing four hits, including Cruz's homer, over 6 1/3 innings. He walked one a struck out four.
The rubber match of this series is scheduled for Sunday.
Oswalt last pitched on Aug. 8 against Boston ... He was moved to the bullpen for the first time in his career after allowing eight earned runs over 5 1/3 innings in a July 30 start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ... In his only other career appearance versus the Blue Jays, Oswalt tossed a two-hit shutout ... Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was ejected in the eighth inning by home plate umpire Jeff Nelson.