C.J. Wilson was pitching the game of his life. Then the Texas Rangers left-hander reached out for a grounder and wound up with an injured finger, a move he said he'll always regret.
Wilson was perfect for five innings before exiting in the seventh with what turned out to be a minor injury to his left index finger, and Ian Kinsler homered twice to help the AL West-leading Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Thursday night.
Wilson (14-6) gave up two runs and two hits in six-plus innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. He got back on track after he was knocked around for six runs and 10 hits in five innings of his previous start, an 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
He struck out six while retiring the first 15 Rays he faced before Casey Kotchman led off the sixth with an infield single.
Wilson reached out with his left hand in an attempt to field the sharp grounder. The ball bent back Wilson's left index finger, and the grounder changed directions. Kinsler fielded the ball on the grass behind second base, but his throw to first was wide.
Rangers manager Ron Washington and a team trainer ran onto the field to check on Wilson, but he stayed in the game after throwing a few practice pitches.
"I will second-guess that Casey Kotchman at-bat for the rest of my life," Wilson said.
Wilson got Justin Ruggiano to ground into a double play, then Kelly Shoppach ended Wilson's shutout bid with a homer into the left-field seats.
When Wilson hit Sean Rodriguez with a pitch leading off the seventh and followed by walking Evan Longoria, it was obvious that the lefty was having problems with the finger. Pitching coach Mike Maddux went to the mound and Wilson was soon headed for the dugout to a standing ovation.
X-rays showed the finger wasn't broken, and Washington said Wilson would make his next start.
"When I stopped the ball, that pretty much ended my effectiveness," Wilson said. "I reached for the ball and it bent my index finger back. The finger went numb. It's like trying to drive with only one eye, so you don't have depth perception."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said until the injury, Wilson "had no-hit stuff. We had bad swings and his stuff was jumping."
Koji Uehara struck out Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton in the seventh before Matt Joyce greeted left-hander Darren Oliver with a pinch-hit RBI single to pull the Rays within 5-2. Oliver retired Kotchman on a groundout to end the inning.
Michael Young added a solo homer for the Rangers, who wrapped up a 5-5 homestand.
Rays starter Jeff Niemann (9-6) had won eight of his previous nine decisions, but the 6-foot-9 right-hander gave up three runs in the second.
Niemann allowed five runs and six hits over five innings. Meanwhile, his teammates couldn't get much going against Wilson.
The Rangers had All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre back in the lineup. Beltre was activated from the disabled list before the game, and batted fifth.
Joyce robbed Beltre of a homer with a leaping catch over the right-field wall in the eighth.
In the second, Beltre singled in his first at-bat and came home on David Murphy's double.
Beltre knows he must run the bases carefully to avoid another hamstring injury, and he loped home on Murphy's drive into the gap in left-center.
"It looked like he never left," Washington said. "On the ball that Murphy hit, I was paying attention to (Beltre's) strides. He was under control. He wasn't trying to push it."
Yorvit Torrealba followed with a single that scored Murphy, and Endy Chavez's triple knocked in Torrealba to make it 3-0.
Beltre's return was especially welcome after team home run leader Nelson Cruz went on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week with a strained left hamstring.
Beltre was batting .276 with 20 homers and 76 RBIs in 100 games when he strained his left hamstring running the bases against Toronto on July 22.
In the fifth, Kinsler's 22nd homer and Young's 11th stretched Texas' advantage to 5-0.
Kinsler's second homer of the night in the seventh off Brandon Gomes and Torrealba's RBI single in the eighth extended the lead to 7-2.
NOTES: Kinsler has 11 career multihomer games, four this season. ... In other moves by the Rangers, INF Andres Blanco was reinstated from the 15-day DL, and Texas added C Matt Treanor and LHP Mike Gonzalez to the roster after they were acquired in trades earlier this week. Texas also purchased the contracts of INF Esteban German and RHP Merkin Valdez from Triple-A Round Rock, and INF Omar Quintanilla was sent outright to Round Rock. ... The Rays added Ruggiano and Brandon Guyer as rosters were expanded to 40. Both were in the starting lineup, Guyer in RF and Ruggiano at DH. Ruggiano was activated from the 15-day DL, where he had been since Aug. 10 because of bursitis in his left knee. Guyer was recalled from Triple-A Durham for the third time this season.