by stephen hawkins ap sports writer
The Texas Rangers forced a one-game tiebreaker for the second AL wild-card spot, winning their seventh in a row Sunday when Geovany Soto hit a tiebreaking RBI double and later homered to beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-2.
The Rangers (91-71) added game No. 163 to the regular season, and will host Tampa Bay on Monday night. The winner plays two days later at wild card leader Cleveland in another win-or-be-done matchup.
About the same time Tampa Bay wrapped up its 7-6 win at Toronto to necessitate a victory by the Rangers to keep playing, Craig Gentry hit a two-run single in the fifth for a 2-1 lead.
Los Angeles quickly tied the game against major league strikeout leader Yu Darvish in the sixth, but the Rangers went ahead to stay in the bottom half on Soto's two-out double.
Adrian Beltre and Soto added solo homers in the eighth. It was Beltre's 30th and the ninth for Soto, who has become the primary catcher for Darvish.
The Angels (78-84) finished with a losing record for only the second time in 10 seasons after being swept in a four-game series at Texas for the first time since June 1978.
Neal Cotts (8-3) replaced Darvish in the sixth and allowed the tying hit, but struck out Howie Kendrick for the inning-ending out with runners on first and third.
Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan each pitched a scoreless inning after that.
When the Rangers started their game, Tampa Bay already led 7-0 at Toronto. Then Mike Trout homered to put the Angels up 1-0.
Darvish struck out eight in 5 2-3 innings. But for the sixth time this season, and second game in a row, Darvish immediately gave up the lead a half-inning after the Rangers went ahead.
The right-hander from Japan finished with a majors-leading 277 strikeouts, the most since Randy Johnson had 290 for Arizona in 2004. The last AL pitcher with more was Pedro Martinez with 284 for Boston in 2000.
After Darvish walked Kole Calhoun with one out in the second, manager Ron Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux, a trainer and Darvish's interpreter all went to the mound. It was a quick visit, and the pitcher was apparently OK.
Darvish retired the next 11 batters in a row through the end of the fifth, before the trouble in the sixth.
A.J. Pierzynski had a leadoff double in the fifth and Soto walked before an errant pickoff throw by Jason Vargas (9-8) moved both of them up a base. They scored on a single up the middle by Gentry, the No. 8 hitter who is 17 for 36 in his last 10 games.
There was a reverse double play in the Angels sixth — J.B. Shuck hit a grounder to second baseman Ian Kinsler, who ran back Andrew Romine before throwing to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who had to make a quick throw to shortstop Elvis Andrus to tag out Romine. But Darvish then gave up a single to Erick Aybar and walked Trout on four pitches.
Cotts, the left-hander whose 1.13 ERA is the lowest ever for a Texas reliever, gave up an tying RBI single to Josh Hamilton, who finished with a 14-game hitting streak — his longest in his Angels debut after the previous five years with the Rangers.
Beltre had a two-out single in the sixth and scored on Soto's go-ahead hit. Gentry led off the seventh with a single and scored on Kinsler's hit.
NOTES: Trout's 27th homer was his 190th hit, making the 22-year-old center fielder only the third major leaguer since 1900 with 190 hits, 100 walks and 30 stolen bases in the same season. The others are Ty Cobb in 1915 and Lenny Dykstra in 1993. ... Gentry had two stolen bases, and the Rangers have at least one steal in a team-record 12 consecutive games. ... Darvish was winless his last six home starts.