ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers finally gained some ground in the wild-card race with the regular season down to two games.
Alex Rios keyed a seventh-inning uprising to lead Texas to 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels Friday at Rangers Ballpark.
Texas (89-71) has won five in a row, and trails wild-card leaders Cleveland and Tampa Bay by one game. Both teams are 90-70. The Indians won, but the Rays lost, marking the first time the Rangers have closed the gap on either squad during their current winning streak.
Texas took the lead in the seventh off Angels reliever J.C. Gutierrez. Ian Kinsler opened the inning with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt and then went to third on Elvis Andrus' sac bunt.
Rios' singled through the right side to drive home Kinsler. Rios wasn't done. He stole second and with two outs, raced home on A.J. Pierzynski's infield single. Pierzynski also drove in two runs.
The Rangers bullpen finished off 3 2/3 scoreless innings to nail down the victory. Neal Cotts (7-3) picked up the win and Joe Nathan earned his 42nd save.
The four-game series continues Saturday with a morning start. The Angels (78-82) are 4-13 against Texas this season and clinched a losing record.
The Rangers got to Angels starter and former Ranger C.J. Wilson in the first, taking advantage of a leadoff walk and a perfectly executed hit-and-run play. Wilson walked Kinsler, who went to third when Andrus sent a chopper through a wide-open right side. Alex Rios' groundout to short scored Kinsler to give Texas 1-0 lead.
Los Angeles got the run back against Alexi Ogando in the third on Kole Calhoun's sacrifice fly. Alex Romine singled to open the inning and advanced to third on Erick Aybar's hit.
Wilson lost his control in third and the Rangers happily took advantage to go ahead, 3-1. The lefty threw three wild pitches, hit two batters and issued a walk.
Pierzynski was plunked with the bases loaded to force in one run. Rios came home on Wilson's third pitch in the dirt. Wilson was up to 77 pitches when the inning finally ended on his fifth strikeout.
Josh Hamilton tied the game at 3-3 with a two-run, bases-loaded single in the fifth. It was also his 1,000th career hit.
NOTES: Major League Baseball released the tiebreaker sequence should a three-way tie exist between Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Texas for the two American League wild-card berths. Cleveland would host Tampa Bay on Monday, with the winner earning a wild card. The loser would then play at Texas on Tuesday, with the winner earning the other wild-card spot. Home-field advantage in Wednesday's wild-card game would be determined by head-to-head record. ... The starting time for Saturday's game has been moved 11:05 a.m. CT due to the threat of inclement weather later in the day. It'll be the earliest start ever at Rangers Ballpark. ... Texas' run of four consecutive walk-off wins by home run over the Angels in Arlington is a first in MLB history. Never before had one team won four straight at home over another in such fashion.