Byrd's sixth-inning single lifts Rangers past Angels

" Unsung heroes: Texas' bullpen was phenomenal in Wednesday's win. C.J. Wilson pitched a perfect seventh, Joaquin Benoit struck out the side in the eighth, and Eric Gagne retired all three batters in the ninth for his 11th save in 11 chances.

" Figure this: The Angels won six of the first seven meetings with the Rangers this season by a total score of 42-22, but Texas has come back to take the last two. Los Angeles has lost six of eight overall.

" Quotable: "It's a matter of pitching. Pitching makes everything better. Our starting pitching is outstanding. That's why we're on the roll we're on." -- Rangers manager Ron Washington

-- ESPN.com news services

Rangers 4, Angels 2

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Rangers may be in last place in the AL West, but they're making things uncomfortable for the league's elite.

Jamey Wright allowed two runs in six innings, Marlon Byrd drove in the tiebreaking run with a sixth-inning single, and the Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-2 on Wednesday night.

Since June 25, the Rangers are 6-3 against three of the league's top teams -- Boston, Detroit and the Angels.

"We're starting to string some things together," Byrd said. "We can really make some people nervous now."

The Rangers have won 10 of their last 14 games and have taken two straight from the Angels after losing six of the first seven meetings with their division rivals.

Improved starting pitching has helped fuel Texas' recent surge. For the eighth time in the last 11 games, a Rangers starter has held the opposition to three runs or less.

The Rangers are 20-2 this season when they give up three runs or fewer.

Wright (2-2) followed that trend, allowing five hits, striking out two and walking two.

Texas also got a strong showing from its bullpen, with C.J. Wilson pitching a perfect seventh, Joaquin Benoit striking out the side in the eighth, and Eric Gagne retiring all three batters in the ninth for his 11th save in as many chances.

"It's a matter of pitching," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Pitching makes everything better. Our starting pitching is outstanding. That's why we're on the roll we're on."

Byrd and Frank Catalanotto both had three hits for Texas.

Los Angeles has lost six of eight overall and the slumping offense has been able to generate only 12 runs and 19 hits in the last four games.

"There are going to be ups and downs in a season," Angels outfielder Gary Matthews said. "We're not going to panic or jump off a bridge."

Texas' Brad Wilkerson, who tied a club record with homers in his last three at-bats in Tuesday night's 8-3 victory over the Angels, just missed another when his second-inning drive banged high off the wall in right field for an RBI double and a 1-0 lead.

Held hitless by Wright in the first three innings, the Angels got singles from their first four batters in the fourth, with Vladimir Guerrero's driving in their first run. Orlando Cabrera crossed the plate with the Angels' second run of the inning as Casey Kotchman grounded into a double play.

Texas evened the score at 2 in the fourth against starter Jered Weaver (6-5) on Gerald Laird's sacrifice fly.

Wright, a journeyman pitching for his sixth major league team, featured a sinker that produced 11 groundball outs in the first five innings. Wright then needed quick reflexes in the sixth to snare Cabrera's line drive before firing to first to double off Chone Figgins and preserve the tie.

"It was just instinct," Wright said. "My first thought was not to throw it away. I just lobbed it over to first base. With what I was thinking, I'm surprised I didn't throw it in the stands."

The Rangers went in front 3-2 in the sixth when Sammy Sosa and Catalanotto singled and Byrd followed with a single that drove in Sosa from third and knocked out Weaver.

Weaver gave up three runs and seven hits in five-plus innings with two strikeouts and two walks.

"I was just trying to keep us in the game and for the most part I did that," Weaver said. "A few seeing-eye hits got through to beat us but it's a long season. It's just a matter of time before we get out of this funk."

Laird's sacrifice fly in the eighth extended Texas' lead to 4-2.

Game notes
Wilkerson has 16 RBIs in his last eight games. ... 2B Jerry Hairston Jr. was back in the Texas lineup after missing three straight games with a sore left knee. ... Hairston made a diving stop of a hot grounder and threw out Reggie Willits while he was flat on his back in the third. ... Weaver had won five of his previous six decisions. ... The crowd of 46,105 was the Rangers' second-largest of the season.