ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Mitch Moreland, Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios all hit homers in the third inning Thursday, and Yu Darvish allowed only two runs in five trying innings as the Rangers beat Tampa Bay 8-2 to forge another tie for atop the wild-card standings.
The Rangers split the key four-game series at Tropicana Field after losing the opener to see their losing streak hit seven. They and the Rays are a half-game up on Cleveland, which beat Houston in 11 innings.
Darvish threw 109 pitches in five innings, but won for the first time since Aug. 12. He walked six and hit another, and got double-play grounders to escape difficult innings in the third and fourth.
The Rangers scored quickly against Matt Moore, taking advantage of a one-out error that allowed Andrus to reach. He went to second on a wild pitch, and Rios singled him home for a 1-0 lead.
It was the first run the Rangers had scored in 17 innings with Darvish on the mound, but he gave it and the lead up a 40-pitch bottom half. James Loney had an RBI double with two outs, and consecutive walks brought in another Rays run.
The Rangers went ahead for good in the third, which Mitch Moreland opened with an opposite-field homer. The next batter, Ian Kinsler, just missed a homer of his own, but Andrus and Rios connected with deep drives to left field.
They provided the Rangers with their first back-to-back homers since April 30, when Nelson Cruz and Jeff Baker pulled the feat.
The Rangers tacked on two more runs in the fourth for a 6-2 lead on a ball that didn't leave the infield.
Craig Gentry and Kinsler were at second and third when Andrus hit a high chopper to shortstop. He legged it out for an infield hit, scoring Gentry, and Kinsler came around when Loney paused to check on the call at first before throwing home.
Gentry added an RBI single in the seventh with a two-out blooper that scored Adrian Beltre, who had opened the inning with a double. Gentry was 4 for 5 with three stolen bases.
-- Jeff Wilson