The Texas Rangers are determined to put a strong finish on a mostly miserable season.
Ryan Rua hit his first major league homer, connecting off Huston Street in the ninth inning as the Rangers beat the playoff-bound Los Angeles Angels 2-1 Sunday for their eighth win in nine games.
Tomas Telis had a bases-loaded infield single for Texas, which took two of three in the majors-leading Angels' final home series of the regular season. The late-season surge even pulled the Rangers out of the overall major league cellar, putting them a half-game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks with one week to play.
Those details might not affect much besides draft position, but interim manager Tim Bogar wants the Rangers to head into 2015 with reason for hope after wrapping up this season with a weeklong homestand.
"Everybody wants to put the persona on us as the worst team in baseball, record-wise," said Bogar, who is 9-6 since taking over for Ron Washington. "We're not the worst team in baseball. We just don't have an impressive record. We don't want to have the worst record, but we also know what comes with having the worst record.
"So it's one of those things where we're not going to try to lose games. We're trying to win every game from here on out. And if we do that, we're definitely not going to have the worst record."
Rua broke a tie with his one-out shot to left on an inside fastball from Street (1-2), the Angels' normally reliable closer. It was the first homer in 83 at-bats for Rua, who made his Texas debut late last month.
"It came at a good time, and I'm happy about it," Rua said. "I'm still trying to process it, but it definitely felt good. They pounded me in pretty much the whole game, and I didn't really take any good swings. ... I was trying to be short and quick with an inside pitch today if I got it."
Texas' Nick Tepesch was sharp in his first start after earning his only victory since June, pitching seven innings of four-hit ball against the majors' most productive offense.
Shawn Tolleson (3-1) got two outs in the eighth for Texas. Neftali Feliz struck out the side for his 11th save.
Although the AL West champion Angels (96-60) wrapped up their home schedule with a quiet loss, they still finished with a league-best 52 home victories. They have lost five of eight overall, but still lead Baltimore by 2 1/2 games for home-field advantage throughout the postseason after the Orioles' 3-2 loss to Boston.
Albert Pujols drove in the Angels' only run in the finale of a 10-game homestand during which they clinched their first playoff berth and division title since 2009.
Cory Rasmus pitched into the fifth inning for the first time since the Angels decided to fill injured
Garrett Richards' rotation spot with bullpen starts led off by the right-hander. Rasmus has been impressive in his five starts under that strategy, yielding three runs and eight hits in 16 innings.
HIT BY PITCH
Tepesch hit Mike Trout in the upper arm in the first inning, plunking the favorite for AL MVP for the second time this month. Texas RHP Nick Martinez also has hit Trout twice in the clubs' last two series.
Rangers: OF Alex Rios will sit out the final week of the season to rest his badly bruised thumb. He hasn't played since Sept. 4.
Angels: OF Josh Hamilton sat out for the 16th time in 17 games with upper-body pain.
Rangers: Derek Holland (1-0, 0.99 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season against Houston's Nick Tropeano at home Monday night.
Angels: C.J. Wilson (13-9, 4.42 ERA) returns from a dominant start to face Oakland's Jeff Samardzija on Monday night.