Nomar Mazara had five RBIs, including a tiebreaking three-run homer in the fifth inning, and the Rangers held on to beat the Chicago White Sox 9-8 on Thursday night.
The Rangers (60-60) reached .500 for the first time since July 15 with their fourth straight win and seventh in eight games. The defending AL West champs, out of the division race behind Houston, pulled 1 1/2 games behind the idle Los Angeles Angels for the AL's second wild card.
Mazara's 16th home run capped the Rangers' second four-run inning, which included two injury replacements on the mound for the White Sox in their fifth straight loss. Chicago, carrying the AL's worst record, dropped to 7-24 since the All-Star break.
The White Sox twice pulled within a run late after trailing 8-5, including in the ninth on Jose Abreu's 23rd homer, a solo shot. But Alex Claudio finished a two-inning save for the left-hander's sixth of the season.
Chris Beck replaced starter Reynaldo Lopez in the fifth and took a sharp comebacker from Adrian Beltre off the back of his right shoulder. The right-hander stayed in the game without getting checked and allowed Mazara's high drive to right-center.
After a trainer finally came out, Beck exited with a right shoulder bruise. Lopez (0-1) was removed because of soreness on his right side in his second start since coming up from the minors.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx (4-2) retired all five batters he faced after starter Tyson Ross walked a season-high six and allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings. Chicago pitchers walked a season-high nine.
Rangers backup catcher Brett Nicholas had his second homer in two starts, a two-run shot in the third, and a bases-loaded walk in the seventh. Mazara had a two-run single later in the third. He finished one RBI shy of his career high.
Avisail Garcia was scratched from the lineup with left wrist soreness.
James Shields (2-4, 5.90) is winless (0-3) with a 7.54 ERA over his past seven starts. He is 7-3 with a 2.66 ERA in his career against the Rangers.
Andrew Cashner (7-9, 3.32) had a three-game winning streak snapped in a 2-1 loss to Houston in his last start, allowing two runs in seven innings.