Monday night began with a 2016 American League West Division championship banner being unfurled from the office complex beyond center field at Globe Life Park. But the Texas Rangers took a step back in pursuing their next goal — earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Jonathan Villar homered twice and had a career-high five RBIs and Matt Garza beat his former team as the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Rangers 8-3.
The loss dropped Texas one-half game behind the Boston Red Sox in the race for the league's best record. The Cleveland Indians pulled within one-half game of the Rangers.
"You're playing pretty much teams that are not in the race, and they have nothing to lose," said Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus, who had three hits along with left fielder Carlos Gomez. "It's two different mentalities, but you've got to go out there and try to win games."
Rangers starter Martin Perez (10-11) was looking to set a career high for wins in a season. He gave up a season-high eight earned runs and nine hits in 6⅔ innings. His home record this season fell to 8-3.
"I threw strikes; that's why they hit the ball," Perez said. "If I give up runs like that, with homers or hard base hits, I don't care. I just want to stay there and throw strikes."
"The number on the scoreboard, it is what it is," manager Jeff Banister said, "but I didn't feel like that told the story. I feel like there were some pitches Martin threw well. It seemed like when he needed to get an out, he couldn't get the out."
Garza (6-8) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. He spent the second half of the 2013 season with Texas as a rental acquisition from the Chicago Cubs, going 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA. It was Garza's first appearance against Texas since 2010.
"I take it as this is our playoff right here," said Garza, who won Game 3 of the Division Series for the Tampa Bay Rays against Texas at Globe Life Park. "They're a good team, and you want to go out and perform."
Jeremy Jeffress, acquired by Texas from Milwaukee along with Jonathan Lucroy on Aug. 1, made his first appearance since being reinstated Friday from the restricted list. He was arrested on a drunken driving charge in Dallas on Aug. 26 and was sent to an inpatient rehab clinic. Jeffress retired all four batters he faced.
"Getting this one out of the way is going to be pretty good for the next one," Jeffress said. "I just took everything in. It made me feel good inside."
Change of Pitching Plans
Banister moved Cole Hamels' final regular-season start up from Friday against Tampa Bay to Wednesday's series finale vs. Milwaukee. He said the change was made to allow Colby Lewis and Perez to start the last two games against the Rays.
Lucroy, who played 6½ seasons for Milwaukee, faced his previous team for the first time. He went 1 for 4. . Perez added to his major league-leading total of groundball double plays induced with his 36th of the season in the sixth inning. . The Brewers scored in every inning in which their leadoff batter reached and failed to score in innings in which the leadoff man was retired.
Rangers: OF Shin-Soo Choo (left forearm fracture) had three hits and two walks batting in all seven innings of an Instructional League game on Monday. Banister said he hopes to get RHP Tony Barnette (strained oblique), who last pitched on Sept. 4, into Tuesday night's game.
Brewers: RHP Taylor Jungmann won't pitch again this season after suffering a hip abductor during his start last Saturday night, which was his first in the majors since April.
Brewers RHP Jimmy Nelson (8-15) leads the NL in losses after getting off to a 3-1 start. Rangers RHP A.J. Griffin (7-4) lasted only 1⅔ innings last Tuesday in Anaheim, allowing three hits and four walks. If Texas elects to go with four starters in the Division Series, Griffin is a contender for the final slot.