Alex Cobb threw eight strong innings and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the free-falling Texas Rangers 6-2 Monday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Wil Myers hit a solo homer and had three RBI and Ben Zobrist reached base four times with three hits and a walk for the Rays, who remained atop the AL wild card standings with their fourth win in five games.
The Rangers were tied for the wild card lead with Tampa Bay coming into the game but fell to 2-12 in their last 14 games.
Cobb (9-3) struck out 10, walked one and gave up two runs and six hits. The Rays won for the first time in his last five starts.
"At this point of the season, and with the position we're in, every game is going to get bigger. Yesterday was the biggest game of the season, today is the biggest game of the season, tomorrow will be the biggest game of the season. I don't think it's unfair to say that. We realize the performance we have to put together out there every night. I think we're up for it," Cobb said.
Matt Garza (3-5) was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first-ever start against his former team. Garza, who pitched for Rays from 2008-10, gave up eight hits and two walks and struck out three.
Garza made his first appearance at Tropicana Field since the Rays dealt him to the Cubs on Jan. 8, 2011.
"I'm not frustrated and I'm confused," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I'm trying to figure out what we have to do to jump-start this offense."
The Rays chased him from the game during a four-run rally in the fifth inning.
David DeJesus doubled with one out and Zobrist, James Loney and Evan Longoria hit consecutive singles, with Loney and Longoria both knocking in a run. Jason Frasor replaced Garza and Myers greeted him with a two-run double to make it 6-2 Rays.
Cobb, who threw 74 of his 106 pitches for strikes, retired nine of the last 11 batters he faced. Jamey Wright threw a 1-2-3 ninth to finish off the win.
Earlier, Myers homered on Garza's first pitch of the second inning, smacking it to the opposite way and just over the right-field fence for a 1-0 Rays lead.
After A.J. Pierzynski's RBI single tied the game in the fourth, the Rays took a 2-1 lead on Desmond Jennings' sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.
The Rangers tied the game again on Ian Kinsler's RBI double in the top of the fifth.
The Rangers' slide has them far back of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West and battling for one of the two wild card spots instead of a division title ... Garza is winless in his last five starts and the Rangers are 1-4 in those outings.