TEXAS (AP) — The Texas Rangers clinched a wild-card spot and moved to the cusp of the AL West title, with Adrian Beltre’s three-run double backing Derek Holland in a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
The Rangers (87-72), in the playoffs for the first time since 2012 after a 95-loss season, are a win or a Houston loss away from their first division title since winning two straight and going to the World Series in 2010-11.
The Angels can’t defend their AL West championship, but still have a shot at the second wild card with three games left. Los Angeles (83-76) is a game behind the Astros and tied with Minnesota, which beat Cleveland 4-2.
Holland (4-3) allowed three hits and three runs in 6 1-3 innings for his first win since Sept. 5.
Beltre, who had the second-most RBIs in the majors in September with 29, broke a 1-all tie with a bases-clearing double off Andrew Heaney (6-4) in the fifth. Beltre scored an insurance run after a leadoff single in the seventh.
Holland, who missed most of the season with a left shoulder strain, struck out six, including Kole Calhoun three times.
Calhoun also grounded out to Elvis Andrus against reliever Jake Diekman with the tying run at third to end the seventh, the first of five straight chances for the Texas shortstop.
Sam Dyson pitched a perfect eighth with help from two strong defensive plays by Andrus, and closer Shawn Tolleson did the same in the ninth for his 35th save in 37 chances.
Texas, which fell to Tampa Bay in a playoff for a wild-card spot in 2013, lost ace Yu Darvish to season-ending elbow surgery in spring training and went 7-14 in April after finishing last in the AL West in 2014.
The Rangers were still eight games out on Aug. 2 but are now on the verge of becoming the fifth team in 40 years — and the first since the Twins in 2006 — to win a division after trailing by that many games in August.
Heaney, a 24-year-old left-hander who has just one win since July 26, walked a career-high five. Two of them were in the fifth before Beltre chased him with a line drive down the line in left to score Robinson Chirinos, Delino DeShields, who had a tying double, and Shin-Soo Choo.
Albert Pujols hit his 39th home run off Holland in the sixth. He doubled and scored the first run in the second.
Angels: Manager Mike Scioscia said closer Huston Street (groin) was still unavailable.
Rangers: Chirinos (left shoulder strain) made his second straight start at catcher for the first time since late July.
Angels: RHP Jered Weaver (7-12, 4.76 ERA) makes his second start of the season against the Rangers. He allowed one run on four hits in six innings in a no-decision when Texas won 2-1 on Sept. 5.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (3-6, 4.77) has three straight wins over four starts at home, with a 2.28 ERA in those starts. He gave up two unearned runs in six innings of a 4-2 loss at Houston in his last start.
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