Alcides Escobar worked a bases-loaded walk to plate the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning in the Kansas City Royals' 2-1 win over the Texas Rangers in the opener of a three-game set.
Back-to-back two-out singles put runners on the corners against Jason Frasor (4-3), who walked pinch-hitter David Lough to load the bases in the eighth. Neftali Feliz came into the game and issued a four-pitch free pass to Escobar to bring home Lorenzo Cain and make it 2-1.
Greg Holland fired two strikeouts in a perfect ninth to notch his 44th save of the season.
"These games, they're all going to be like this," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "They're all going to be nail biters, they're all going to be close and defense is going to be the difference."
Cain and Eric Hosmer tallied a pair of hits apiece for the Royals, who have won six of their last nine games. Kansas City starter Ervin Santana surrendered a run on five hits and a walk over 7 1/3 innings in the no- decision.
Luke Hochevar (5-2) picked up the final two outs in the eight to tally the win.
The Royals moved 2 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second American League wild-card spot.
A.J. Pierzynski cracked an RBI double for Texas, which has dropped nine of its last 11 tilts. With the loss, the Rangers no longer hold one of the two coveted wild-card slots in the AL.
"I'm not worried about Cleveland moving ahead of us," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I'm worried about winning a ballgame every night from here on out. We didn't win tonight so we have to come back tomorrow."
Pierzynski's double in the second opened the scoring before Justin Maxwell's two-out RBI double in the home half knotted the contest.
Kansas City moved to 69-2 when leading after eight innings ... It was just the 18th walk Escobar has worked in 581 trips to the plate this year ... Kansas City was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.