ARLINGTON -- Veteran right-hander Colby Lewis retired the first 21 A's hitters on Friday night before Danny Valencia broke up the perfect game with a double to lead off the eighth inning of the Rangers' 4-0 victory, a win that helped Texas trim Houston's lead in the American League West to 1 1/2 games.
"With me not pitching up to par the last couple starts, I just wanted to go out and have a good game, really," said Lewis, who broke a personal three-game losing streak. "Overall I felt like all my pitches were working pretty well. In any situation like that, when you have all your pitches working, you know you're going to have a good chance to be productive and get a lot of outs."
Lewis finished with a two-hit shutout, his first since Aug. 5 of last year and the third of his career. He improved to 15-8, a new career high in wins, and he has now pitched 184 innings this season, putting him on pace for another career high. His gem ended a down stretch in which he allowed 15 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings, for an 8.62 ERA.
A's right-hander Jesse Chavez fell behind immediately, allowing four hits, two of them doubles, in the first inning to give the Rangers a three-run lead. Chavez threw six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and one walk and striking out six.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rangers pounce early: Texas staked Lewis to a quick lead, with three runs in the first inning. Shin-Soo Choo reached on a base hit that got past second baseman Brett Lawrie, Adrian Beltre singled and Mitch Moreland drove both home with a double to right. Rougned Odor followed with a double to left to score Moreland.
"What a fun game to watch all the way around, between Colby, the defense and some of the timely hitting," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "It was an exceptional night all the way around."
The breakup: Valencia lined an 0-1 slider -- Lewis' 71st pitch of the night -- down the left-field line to kick off the eighth inning and squash the chance at a perfect game. Valencia, who flied out to right field in his first plate appearance and grounded out in his second, had just two hits in his previous 20 at-bats.
"He was going for something that's pretty special," Valencia said. "There's a mutual respect out there when you're witnessing great things happen, and he was very competitive tonight.
"I'd be lying if I said you don't want to be the one who breaks it up. You almost want to be the villain in that situation, especially when you're in front of their home crowd, but we're still trying to win games."
DeShields makes dazzling catch: In the fourth inning, after Lewis retired the first 11 batters, Josh Reddick hit a soft fly ball to center field, and it looked as though it would drop in for Oakland's first hit. Instead, Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields, running almost straight toward second base, dove and snagged the ball just before it would have landed to end the inning.
"That's when everybody started to get pumped a little bit, they saw that there were no hits on the board," Lewis said. More >
Chavez rebounds: Chavez had pitched five innings or fewer in each of his previous three starts, prompting talk about potential second-half fatigue. But he bounced back from a 25-pitch, three-run first inning to complete six (on 91 pitches) for the first time since Aug. 19. He faced the minimum in three of his final five frames, including each of his last two.
"For a time of the year where a lot of the talk is how worn down he is," A's manager Bob Melvin said, "he gets off to a tough start like that and recently hasn't been able to recover. ... I had guys up multiple innings, but he was able to get through it and get big outs when he needed to." More >
"I do want to thank all the servicemen and -women out here on a night like this. It was a pretty cool deal to do it on a night like this. My job's real easy compared to what they do on a daily basis." -- Lewis, on pitching a two-hit shutout on Sept. 11
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Lewis' flirtation with a perfect game was the first time a Rangers pitcher retired the first 21 batters since Yu Darvish came one out from a perfect game on April 2, 2013, at Houston, retiring 26 batters before Marwin Gonzalez singled up the middle.
WHAT'S NEXT A's: Left-hander Sean Nolin, who pitched six innings of three-run ball against the Mariners in his debut on Sunday, is back on the mound on Saturday for a 5:05 p.m. PT start at Globe Life Park for the middle matchup of a three-game set against the Rangers.
Rangers:Yovani Gallardo will make his 30th start of the season at 7:05 p.m. CT as the Rangers try to take a series from the A's for the first time in five tries this season.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.