ARLINGTON -- Tough pitching on a hot afternoon helped the Rangers avoid a sweep as they cooled off the Blue Jays with a 4-1 victory on Thursday.
Five Rangers pitchers combined for the victory, led by starter Yovani Gallardo. He held the Blue Jays scoreless for 5 1/3 innings before relievers Keone Kela, Jake Diekman, Sam Dyson and Shawn Tolleson battled their way through 3 2/3 innings. The Blue Jays had eight baserunners on in the last four innings, but they managed just one run. Toronto was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on the afternoon.
"There's no doubt we needed to come out and play well, put our foot down and make a statement," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada allowed one run in six innings, but Toronto had a five-game winning streak snapped. The Blue Jays have a 1 1/2-game lead in the American League East, and the Rangers have won 10 of their last 14 games to take sole possession of the second AL Wild Card spot following the Twins' 5-4 loss to the Rays.
"It was right there, we just couldn't mount any offense," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Then the game got away that one inning. [Liam] Hendriks was getting ahead of guys, he just couldn't put anyone away. They were throwing those hits out there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bautista boots it: Texas put the game out of reach in the seventh inning when Jose Bautista made a costly error in right field. With runners on first and second, Delino DeShields hit a sharp grounder to right and Bautista simply misplayed it. Bobby Wilson was being held at third base, but he got the wave home after the error. Hanser Alberto also scored and DeShields ran all the way around the bases to increase the Rangers' lead to 4-0. It was Bautista's third error of the season.
"I think I just attacked the ball a little too hard and the outfield grass is cut kind of funky here," Bautista said. "You get a lot of ground balls that snake around. We noticed that in BP the first day. I feel like my mindset was right and everything I was doing. I knew who was running at second, I knew they were going to stop him, but I was too aggressive attacking the ball. I came in with sort of an angle and I had to get around the ball, and by the time I got to it, the ball snaked on me a little bit." More >
Dyson tops Tulo: Two days after hitting the game-tying single in the top of the ninth inning, Troy Tulowitzki had another chance to be the hero for the Blue Jays. However, he came up short this time against Dyson. In the seventh, Tulowitzki stepped to the plate with one out and the bases loaded, but he grounded into an inning-ending double play off an 0-1 sinker. By that point, Toronto had stranded seven runners and were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
"Just pitch," Dyson said. "Go out with your best stuff and see what happens."
Venable makes great catch: Rangers left fielder Will Venable saved a run in the second inning when he made a terrific diving catch on Cliff Pennington's line drive. Venable made the catch running straight back away from home plate. Ben Revere was running from first base with two outs and would have scored easily.
"That was a great play, I thought there was no chance he's got that ball, because he was in shallow," Gibbons said. "It's a great play." More >
Kela gets big strikeouts: Kela picked up Gallardo in the sixth inning after entering the game with Josh Donaldson on first and one out. Kela walked Bautista, and the Blue Jays executed a double steal to put runners at second and third. Kela buckled down and struck out Edwin Encarnacion, who would later extend his hitting streak to 22 games with an RBI double in the eighth, and Dioner Navarro to end the inning.
"We're playing great. I don't think this loss is going to affect us in any way. Again, you want to win every single game, but you're going to make a mistake at some point. I didn't want to make it, but it happened and we lost today. But like you said, we've won 21 out of 25, playing great baseball. Even today, we were in the game almost to the last inning." -- Bautista, on his team's 6-2 road trip
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Venable was picked off first base by Hendriks in the seventh inning after a leadoff single. It was the 13th time this season a Rangers baserunner has been picked off. They were picked off a combined 11 times in 2013-14.
Gibbons lost his challenge in the seventh after he believed DeShields missed the base while rounding third following the error by Bautista. Replays later showed that DeShields did touch the base, and following a brief delay, the call on the field was confirmed.
One inning later, Toronto had more success with a crew-chief review. Right-hander LaTroy Hawkins threw an inside pitch to Wilson and home-plate umpire Paul Nauert felt the ball struck the batter's hand. Gibbons thought it was a foul ball and asked for the umpires to take a closer look. They agreed and the original call on the field was overturned. Wilson's at-bat continued and he eventually drew a walk.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will take the mound when the Blue Jays return home to open a three-game series against the Tigers on Friday night at 7:07 ET. Dickey is coming off a pair of rough outings that has seen the veteran starter allow 10 runs over his previous 10 innings. Despite the subpar results, Toronto won each of those games after scoring 20 runs.
Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels pitches for the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. CT on Friday in the first of three games against the Orioles. Hamels is making his fifth start for the Rangers and his first start against the Orioles since 2009. The Rangers have won two straight with Hamels on the mound.