ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Alex Rios had a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh inning, and the Texas Rangers finally gained some ground in the AL wild-card race with a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
For the first time during their five-game winning streak, the Rangers moved closer in the wild-card standings.
Wild-card leader Tampa Bay lost at Toronto, dropping the Rays into a tie with Cleveland, which beat Minnesota, for the two spots. The Rangers are a game back.
With two games left in the regular season, the Rangers still have a chance to go to the postseason for the fourth year in a row.
The loss was the 82nd for the Angels, ensuring them of only their second losing record the past 10 seasons — when they were AL West champions five times.
Ian Kinsler led off the seventh with a walk off Juan Gutierrez (1-5). He took over after C.J. Wilson threw 121 pitches in six innings. Rios had his run-scoring hit after a sac bunt by Elvis Andrus, then scored on a two-out infield single by A.J. Pierzynski.
The Rangers don’t have to wait long to play again — Saturday’s game was moved up eight hours to an 11:05 a.m. start. The weather forecast called for moderate showers and thunderstorms in the area by early afternoon and increasing in intensity throughout the day and into the night, when the game was originally scheduled.
Alexi Ogando allowed three runs with four strikeouts over 5 1-3 innings. Joe Nathan, the winner Thursday night when the Rangers won on rookie Jurickson Profar’s game-ending homer, worked a perfect ninth for his 42nd save in 45 chances.
After Ogando struck out Mark Trumbo to start the sixth, Jason Frasor struck out the next two batters. Neal Cotts (6-3) and Tanner Scheppers both worked perfect innings with two strikeouts.
Texas went ahead 3-1 after a wild 31-pitch third inning for Wilson, the left-hander who went to the Angels in free agency after being part of the Rangers’ only two World Series teams (2010 and 2011) .
Andrus had a one-out single and got to third on two wild pitches, the second which came on ball four to Rios. Wilson then hit consecutive batters with pitches — Adrian Beltre in the left knee to load the bases before getting Pierzynski in the shoulder blade to drive in a run.
Rios scored on another wild pitch, sliding into the plate almost simultaneously with Wilson, who slipped while coming to cover and got tangled up with the runner.
In all, there were three wild pitches by Wilson and two hit batters in the third. But he struck out the last two batters, starting a stretch of retiring 10 in a row before finishing with six strikeouts and four walks.
Within minutes after the Rays had lost, the Angels got even 3-all on a two-out single by Josh Hamilton for his 1,000th career hit.
Kinsler walked on a full-count pitch to start the first against Wilson, then moved to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run play by Andrus before scoring on a fielder’s choice grounder by Rios.
The Angels had consecutive singles to start the third before rookie Kole Calhoun’s sacrifice fly tied the game at 1.
NOTES: Hamilton has a 12-game hitting streak, matching his longest of the season. … Wilson finished 17-7 with a 3.39 ERA. He was 9-0 his last 12 road starts.