ARLINGTON -- The Rangers tightened the American League Wild Card race by rallying for an 11-5 victory over the Yankees in the opener of a three-game series at Global Life Park on Friday night.
The Yankees now lead the Twins by just 1 1/2 games for the top spot in the Wild Card standings. The Rangers remain 2 1/2 games behind the Twins and are now four games behind the Yankees after their seventh win in the past 10 games. Meanwhile, the Yanks fell 4 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox, who beat the Rays.
"Any win is really important at this point of the season," Texas outfielder Carlos Gomez said. "In the last two weeks, we have been playing really good. This is a big win for us. When you beat a team in front of you, it's a big step."
The Yankees took a 4-0 lead with a four-run second before the Rangers stormed back against starter Masahiro Tanaka and five relievers. The top of the Rangers' lineup was especially destructive as Delino DeShields, Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara were a combined 9-for-18 with six runs scored, four doubles, a home run and five RBIs.
"We are playing good baseball ... looking for a good pitch to hit and putting the ball in play," Mazara said. "This lineup is rolling and playing together. Hopefully good things will keep coming."
Rangers starter Martin Perez won his seventh straight start while allowing five runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings. It's the longest winning streak of Perez's career and the first time a Rangers pitcher has won seven straight starts since Kenny Rogers won eight in a row in 2005.
"Just kept mixing his pitches," Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said of Perez. "Kept us off-balance after the first couple times he saw us, and he made some quality pitches when he had to. You've got to tip your cap sometimes when he's living on the corners like that and try to get him the next time."
Tanaka had a three-game winning streak snapped. He allowed seven runs in four innings after giving up just five over 21 innings in his previous three starts. The Yankees had eight hits in the first four innings, but none in the last five.
"We had some opportunities, we just weren't able to get the hits when we needed to," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We had the bases loaded one time and Castro didn't get a hit. I didn't think it changed a whole lot, we just didn't take advantage of some situations."
This marks the sixth time this season the Rangers have scored 10 or more runs despite 10 or more strikeouts. The only other time they had that many such games in club history was in 2008.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rodriguez gets big K: Rangers rookie reliever Ricardo Rodriguez took over for Perez and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings by retiring four straight hitters. Rodriguez was brought in with two out and one on in the seventh to face Judge. Texas led, 7-5, and Rodriguez caught Judge looking on a 2-2 fastball for the inning-ending strikeout.
"That's huge; if we don't get out of that inning, it's a different story," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "His last few outings have been a challenge so for him to be able to do that is a great boost for him."
Choo double, Andrus single key rally: The Rangers erased the Yanks' 5-3 lead with a four-run fifth. Texas opened the inning with four straight hits off Tanaka, the last one a long fly ball to the left-field wall that Brett Gardner got his glove on but couldn't hold. It went for a double, putting runners on second and third. Tommy Kahnle took over for Tanaka, but Andrus put the Rangers ahead with a two-run single.
"We made [Tanaka] work and took advantage of some situations," Banister said. "We grinded through some at-bats and stayed in the middle of the field, forced him to get the ball up in the zone."
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Mazara produced the Rangers' first run with a shot deep into the right-field seats leading off the second. Statcast™ estimated the drive at 453 feet with an exit velocity of 110.2 mph. That makes it the second-hardest hit of his 19 home runs this season.
With his eighth-inning double, Andrus became just the third Rangers player with 40 doubles, 20 homers and 20 steals in a season.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:Luis Severino (12-6, 3.03 ERA) starts the middle game of the series today at 1:05 p.m. ET. The righty leads the AL in ERA and is tied for third in wins since the All-Star break.
Rangers: Right-hander Andrew Cashner (9-9, 3.29) pitches for the Rangers today at 12:05 p.m. CT against the Yankees. Cashner has won his past two starts and is 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA in his past 10 starts since the beginning of July.