KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Matt Garza pitched eight impressive innings for his first victory in six starts and the Texas Rangers kept close in the playoff race, beating the Kansas City Royals 3-1 on Saturday night.
The Rangers won for only the fifth time in 19 September games. They remained a half-game behind Cleveland for the second AL wild-card berth.
The Royals, out of the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series, dropped 3 1/2 games in back of the Indians.
Adrian Beltre got two hits and drove in a run for Texas.
Garza (10-6) was 0-3 with an 8.22 ERA in his first three September starts. He pitched four-hit ball before giving up Eric Hosmer's leadoff home run in the ninth, and was pulled.
Garza struck out five and walked one. He is 4-5 in 12 starts since the Rangers acquired him on July 22 in a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
After Hosmer's 17th homer, Joe Nathan relieved. The Texas closer struck out two for his 40th save in 43 chances. Nathan posted his 41st career save against the Royals.
Jeremy Guthrie (14-12) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings. He has permitted six runs and 20 hits in 14 innings in losing his past two starts.
Beltre's .374 career batting average at Kauffman Stadium is the highest for an opposing batter with at least 150 plate appearances.
Guthrie gave up a triple to Ian Kinsler to lead off the game. Kinsler scored on Elvis Andrus' groundout.
In the third, Guthrie's control betrayed him when he walked Andrus and Alex Rios on eight pitches, and both scored.
Beltre bounced an RBI single up the middle and A.J. Pierzynski had a sacrifice fly.
The Royals had only one batter past second base before Hosmer's homer. Jarrod Dyson tripled with two out in the fifth, but was stranded when Alcides Escobar looked at a called third strike.
NOTES: Craig Gentry had three hits and stole a base for the Rangers. He became the fourth different starting left fielder in as many games for Texas. The others were David Murphy, Joey Butler and Jim Adduci. ... Royals RHP James Shields, who starts Sunday, is 10-3 since June 28 after starting the season 2-6.