Arlington, TX – Alex Rios delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning to help the Texas Rangers gain ground in the AL wild card race with a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Texas remains on the outside of the playoff picture, but now trails both Cleveland and Tampa Bay by one game. The Indians bested Minnesota to tie Tampa Bay for the wild card lead after the Rays lost in Toronto earlier Friday.
"We're excited to be where we are. We still have a chance. It would be different if we did, but all you can do is stay focused. We're playing a very good ballclub and we have to keep our game elevated. If not we'll be looking in," said Rangers manager Ron Washington.
The decisive frame begin with Juan Gutierrez (1-5) walking Ian Kinsler, who advanced on a errant pickoff attempt by the Angels reliever. After Elvis Andrus sacrificed Kinsler to third, Rios slapped a grounder past a drawn-in infield on the right side. Rios then stole second and scored on what was ruled as an infield hit.
A.J. Pierzynski greeted Buddy Boshers with a soft grounder up the middle and a hustling Rios raced home when shortstop Erick Aybar's throw pulled the first baseman off the bag.
Texas relievers Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts (7-3), Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan combined to hold the Angels hitless over the final 3 2/3 innings.
The Rangers got a run in the first on a fielder's choice, then retook the lead in the third when Los Angeles starter C.J. Wilson experienced a spell of wildness.
Wilson uncorked three wild pitches, walked a batter and hit two others. The erratic control resulted in a 3-1 advantage for Texas. The Angels had tied the game in the top of the third on Kole Calhoun's sacrifice fly.
The visitors pulled even once again in the fifth as Josh Hamilton plated a pair with a bases-loaded single off Texas starter Alexi Ogando. The hit was the 1,000th of Hamilton's career.
"I just thought C.J. was off all night," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was behind every count. It was just a struggle for C.J. Still he got through six innings giving us a chance, he just wasn't sharp out there."
Due to the threat of inclement weather, the start of Saturday's game has been moved up from 7:05 p.m. CT to 11:05 a.m. ... Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 12 games ... Wilson remains unbeaten in 12 straight road starts, the longest stretch by a left-hander in Angels history ... Andrus has now hit safely in 14 consecutive games against the Halos after going 2-for-4 ... The Rangers have won a season-high five straight home games ... The Angels suffered their sixth consecutive loss in Arlington ... Nathan picked up his 42nd save with a 1-2-3 ninth.