Back-to-back four-hour games are hardly deadline-friendly, but they were friendly to the Rangers.
They won 15-9 Thursday night after pulling away with four runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth, and the gap between them and the Angels is five games.
Oakland is in second place again, 4 1/2 games back.
Ryan Dempster allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in his debut with the Rangers after a Tuesday trade from the Cubs.
"We'll see what happens the next time he takes the ball," manager Ron Washington said. "It was one of those nights that if you got the ball in the air to right field, it didn't come back down."
The two homers Dempster allowed, solo shot to Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, were to right. Dempster said that he wasn't pleased with his pitch execution and then found himself in the unusual spot of having to keep the game close rather than protect a lead.
"I'm not used to doing that," said Dempster, who had a 2.25 ERA in the National League.
Josh Hamilton had his first four-RBI game since June 30, and his two-run double with two outs in the seventh was the back-breaker. He said that he's been getting so much advice that he needs to make sure he strikes on the right tip.
"I"m feeling better," he said. "I just need to go out there and have fun."
The offense collected 18 hits, giving them at least 17 in two straight games, and have scored 26 runs in two August games. It took them 11 games in July to hit that mark.
The Rangers and Angels have six head-to-head games remaining, in September.
"We're not going to go away, they're not going away, and Oakland's probably not going away," Washington said. "It's going to be who plays the best down teh stretch, and we certainly intend to be there."
Both starters Dempster and C.J. Wilson allowed eight runs apiece, the first time that's happened since 2009 as A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett did it. The eight starters in the Rangers-Angels series combined for 47 earned runs in 44 innings. That's good for a 9.61 ERA. The Rangers' four starters had a 12.05 ERA (29 runs in 21 2/3 innings).
-- Jeff Wilson