Rangers becoming kings of close contests

Rangers becoming kings of close contests

ARLINGTON -- After beating the Astros, 4-3, on Tuesday night, the Rangers put themselves into a tie with the Phillies for the best record in one-run games in the Major Leagues, at 12-4.

The Rangers have won a season-high five games in a row, with the last three victories all coming by one run.

"Any time you win tough games, it breeds confidence," manager Jeff Banister said. "Probably not as much confidence, though, as when you win by seven or eight, but there's a certain toughness or grit that you develop."

A key factor in finishing these one-run games has been the bullpen. Although the team's relievers entered Wednesday's game against the Astros with the highest ERA in the American League (4.87), they have a 3.31 ERA over the last 17 games.

"When you play with the defense that we play with, it's a lot of fun for us, because you can be aggressive with balls in the zone and make quality pitches," said right-hander Tony Barnette. "When they put the ball in play, you're confident that the play's going to be made behind you."

Right-hander Matt Bush, whose contract was purchased from Double-A Frisco on May 13, has been one of several reasons for the bullpen's recent success, as the 30-year-old rookie has a 1.54 ERA through his first 12 Major League appearances.

Banister has shown trust in Bush, giving him chances to pitch in pivotal moments late in games.

"It's been really exciting. I've just been really happy to contribute and be a part of this team winning," Bush said. "Whatever role I've been put in, I'm ready to pitch every night."

Sam Dyson, who's picked up three straight saves in as many nights, has been lights-out since being named closer on May 18. He's converted all six saves since earning the job, and opponents are hitting .162 against him in that span.

"I play catch with him every day, so I see how nasty he is," left-hander Jake Diekman said. "When he's on he's very hard to hit -- 96 to 99 mph, with sinking bowling ball action. That's a good recipe."

Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.