Rangers rally in 8th, extend lead for top seed

Rangers rally in 8th, extend lead for top seed

ARLINGTON -- Carlos Gomez hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning as the Rangers rallied for an 8-5 win over the Brewers on Wednesday night in the rubber game at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers (94-65), with their 49th come-from-behind win of the season, hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Red Sox for the best record in the American League. Texas can clinch home-field advantage throughout the postseason by winning two of three against Tampa Bay in the final series of the regular season.

"I saw that pitch good and I didn't have to do too much," Gomez said. "I threw my hands out there and hit it good. It was big for us."

Jeremy Jeffress, with two scoreless innings, earned the win in relief of Rangers starter Cole Hamels. It was the 41st relief win of the season for the Rangers, tying a Major League record shared by the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Rangers trailed, 5-4, going into the bottom of the eighth, but Jonathan Lucroy reached with one out when fill-in center fielder Hernan Perez misplayed the line drive -- "It was like a knuckleball," Perez said -- for a two-base error. After Delino DeShields entered as a pinch-runner for Lucroy, reliever Corey Knebel walked Mitch Moreland and struck out Nomar Mazara.

Jeffress earns the win

Brewers manager Craig Counsell then brought in right-hander Tyler Thornburg and Elvis Andrus tied it with a single up the middle. Gomez followed with his home run, finishing the night 3-for-4.

"He's one of those guys who when he locks in, he always does pretty well in a series," said Thornburg, who played parts of four seasons with Gomez in Milwaukee. "I feel like he definitely wanted to lock in against us, and he ended up doing pretty well."

Perez's was not the Brewers' only defensive letdown. In the first inning, second baseman Jonathan Villar lost a popup in the twilight and it dropped safely, leading to a three-run Rangers rally.

"Overall, we didn't convert enough outs tonight," Counsell said. "Against a lineup like that, it gave them a couple more chances and eventually they made us pay."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hamels joins 200/200 club : Hamels recorded his 200th strikeout of the year by getting Orlando Arcia to go down swinging to end the sixth. Hamels then came out for the seventh and got Martin Maldonado to ground out to lead off the inning, reaching 200 innings pitched. Hamels reached the strikeout and innings milestone in the same season for the sixth time in his career, and became the seventh player in the Majors to do it this year. Hamels has thrown at least 200 innings for the last seven seasons. More >

Hamels records 200th K of 2016

Rivera catches Odor off guard: After Yadiel Rivera singled with none out in the second, a throwing error from Rangers center fielder Ian Desmond allowed Maldonado -- who singled to lead off the inning -- to score and Rivera to get to third. Jonathan Villar followed with a shallow pop fly to Rougned Odor in foul territory down the right-field line. With Odor's back to home, Rivera tagged and scored with a headfirst slide, just around Lucroy's tag for a 4-3 lead that grew to 5-3 an inning later.

Maldonado scores on an error

"We had [Hamels] on the ropes a little bit," Counsell said. "We put five runs on the board, took advantage of a couple of their mistakes. But like I said, we just didn't quite do enough defensively tonight to keep a really good lineup in check."

Odor breaks skid: The Rangers second baseman was hitless in 22 at-bats coming into the game, but he hit a two-run home run in the first off Chase Anderson. Odor hit a line drive down the right-field line that just cleared the fence. The 93.6 mph exit velocity and projected distance of 346 feet by Statcast™ were the lowest of his 32 home runs this season.

Odor's two-run tater

"Nice night for Rougned," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He is going to hit and the swing is there. He's one of our main guys so there is some feel good there."

Villar nears milestone: Villar hit the first pitch of the game from Hamels a Statcast-estimated 421 feet over the center-field fence for his 19th homer. Villar is now just a home run shy of becoming the fourth player in Major League history to hit 20 homers and steal 60 bases in a season. The last player to do it was former A's outfielder Rickey Henderson in 1990. Villar, who leads the Majors with 60 stolen bases, is the first player to hit 15 homers and swipe 60 bases in a season since Carl Crawford did it with the Rays in 2009. More >

Villar's leadoff home run

QUOTABLES
"I told him before the game, wear your LeBron [James] cleats. You'll look better and play better. First at-bat … a bomb." -- Jeffress, on Odor

"We've kind of committed to [when] Tyler has rest, doing that. He had rest. He's had such a great season, I'd take it again for sure." -- Counsell

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Hamels struck out Chris Carter in the fourth inning for No. 1,118 of his career, breaking a tie with former Phillies teammate, Roy Halladay, and moving to No. 65 on the all-time list. Next up is Cubs right-hander John Lackey, who has 1,145.

With six strikeouts on Wednesday, Brewers hitters have whiffed 1,509 times this season, 26 shy of the all-time record held by the 2013 Astros. Milwaukee's three remaining games are against the Rockies, who are averaging 7.5 strikeouts per game.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Rangers, with Gomez at second and Desmond at first, tried a double steal in the fourth because the Brewers had a shift against Carlos Beltran and third base was wide open. But catcher Maldonado threw down to second and Desmond decided to retreat to first. Shortstop Arcia relayed the ball to first and Desmond, trying to go back standing up, was initially called safe despite the tag by first baseman Carter. Replays showed conclusively Desmond was out and the call was overturned. Desmond, seeing the replay on the videoboard, had already returned to the dugout when the review decision was announced.

Maldonado nabs Desmond

After Manny Pina led off the ninth with a single, Arcia grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Counsell challenged that Arcia beat the throw to first. But after a brief review, the call was confirmed.

Rangers turn two

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: Following an off-day on Thursday, left-hander Brent Suter will make his second start for the Brewers on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT to open a three-game series against the Rockies at Coors Field. Suter has thrown 12 1/3 scoreless innings in relief since making his Major League debut as a starter on Aug. 19.

Rangers: After an off-day on Thursday, right-hander Yu Darvish will take the mound on Friday at 7:05 p.m. CT when the Rangers and Rays begin a three-game series at Globe Life Park. Darvish's 101 strikeouts since the All-Star break are fourth most in the American League and fifth most in the Majors.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.