ARLINGTON -- Another comeback and another one-run victory have pushed the Rangers to the brink of the American League West title.
The Rangers trailed by two after two innings but went ahead on Nomar Mazara's two-run home run and held on with a superb effort from the bullpen for a 5-4 victory over the Angels at Globe Life Park on Tuesday night.
The victory dropped the Rangers' magic number for winning the AL West title to two. Since the Astros and the Mariners were tied for second, the Rangers needed both to lose late Tuesday night on the West Coast to drop the magic number to one and clinch at least a tie for the division, but Houston topped the Athletics in Oakland.
"There is no exhale in this league," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "This is the best league on the planet. You've got to stay focused and stay ready. It's all about finishing, and we have to find a way to finish."
The Rangers can clinch the West on Wednesday with an Astros loss to the A's in the afternoon and a victory over the Angels in the series finale.
Rangers starter A.J. Griffin went just 1 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and four walks. Two of the walks forced in runs. But five Rangers relievers combined to hold the Angels to one unearned run over 7 1/3 innings for the win. Nick Martinez was first out of the bullpen, and he pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings to get the victory.
The Angels went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and ended up losing for the 11th time in their last 14 games. Starter Daniel Wright took the loss after allowing five runs in 4 2/3 innings.
"I put myself in a lot of bad counts, and I don't have the stuff to pitch out of bad counts," Wright said. "I need to throw strikes and go after guys. They hit some good pitches hard, but there were a lot of bad pitches, too."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Fireworks in Arlington: With nobody on and no outs in the seventh, Texas right-hander Keone Kela fired a 96-mph pitch behind the shoulders of Andrelton Simmons that sailed to the backstop. Simmons was visibly upset by the pitch, and many of his teammates made their way to the top steps of the dugout. The benches did not clear, but both teams were issued a warning, as Wright had hit Adrian Beltre and Jonathan Lucroy in the fifth. Then, in the eighth, left-hander Brett Oberholtzer hit Elvis Andrus near the ribs and was immediately ejected. Angels manager Mike Scioscia was also ejected.
"Obviously, there was an intent to throw at Simmons," Scioscia said. "For some reason they were upset with the slide, saying that he tried to block the base [earlier in the game]. I guess they took exception to what was a good play by Andrelton." More >
Martinez makes dazzling catch: Martinez, holding a one-run lead, walked C.J. Cron to lead off the fifth. Simmons followed with a line drive up the middle that Martinez snatched behind his back and threw to first to double up Cron. The velocity off the bat was 93 mph; per Statcast™, similarly batted balls go for a hit 57 percent of the time. The TV camera caught Scioscia just shaking his head in the dugout.
"It was pretty wild," Martinez said. "I was just hoping to knock it down." More >
Patience is key: The Angels walked three times in the second inning, resulting in a three-run frame and an early exit for Griffin. Cliff Pennington drew a walk and scored three batters later on a single by Yunel Escobar. That was the only run of the inning that didn't come from a walk. After hitting Mike Trout to load the bases, Griffin walked Albert Pujols and Cron to give the Angels a two-run lead. Griffin was then relieved by Martinez, who got Simmons to ground out to end the inning.
Mazara hits No. 20: Mazara hit his 20th home run of the season to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead in the fourth. He is the fourth Rangers rookie to hit 20-plus home runs, following Pete Incaviglia (30 in 1986), Mark Teixeira (26 in 2003) and Dave Hostetler (22 in 1982).
"I just come to the ballpark and work hard," Mazara said. "In the end it's all about getting the win."
"I was trying to go up and in to see what I could do to get him out. But it didn't work out that way. I missed and I hit him. I think Elvis knew there wasn't any intent behind it." -- Oberholtzer, on being ejected
With Carlos Gomez at first and one out in the sixth, left-hander Jose Alvarez fired a pickoff throw to Cron. But Alvarez's throw sailed by Cron, and Gomez, who dove back, looked to advance to second. Gomez beat the throw to second, but Simmons held the tag on him and Gomez was called out, as he was unable to keep his body on the base. Banister challenged, and after a 30-second review, the call on the field was upheld.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Right-hander Jered Weaver will start the series finale at 5:05 p.m. PT on Wednesday at Globe Life Park. Weaver is one win away from joining Chuck Finley as the only pitchers with 150 wins while with the Angels.
Rangers: Left-hander Derek Holland starts against the Angels at 7:05 p.m. CT Tuesday at Globe Life Park. Holland is 2-3 with a 4.23 ERA in five starts since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 23.