ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had lost three of four, they were beginning a long homestand and they were facing a potential playoff opponent in late August.This wasn't exactly a must-win, do-or-die situation, but it was an opportunity for their No. 1 starter to step up and get things headed back in the right direction. C.J. Wilson did exactly that on another 100-plus-degree night at the Ballpark in Arlington, outdueling Red Sox starter Erik Bedard in a 4-0 victory before 33,920 on Monday. The shutout was the Rangers' 15th of the season, the most in the American League and their most since a club-record 17 in 1977. "Mentally you try to take every start as a big game," Wilson said. "We had a great road trip, but we kind of sputtered at the end. To come back home ... to pitch well against a good team, to get some runs, it's a big deal. I'm happy with the game for a lot of reasons, but getting a win and getting a shutout for the team was big." The Red Sox lineup was missing All-Star hitters David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis -- all sidelined with injuries -- but manager Terry Francona declined to blame that for his team's troubles. "His stuff is just filthy, and when we've had our full lineup, he's gone through us," Francona said. "I don't know that you can make an excuse. He's got a lot of good pitches, and he went right through us. We had a couple of chances, but then he made really good pitches." The Rangers had lost three of four coming into this game but have still won 11 of their last 15 games. With the Angels off on Monday, they now have a 4 1/2-game lead in the AL West. They have three more with the Red Sox before the Angels show up Friday. "It's nice to get off to a good start at home," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "You always want to play well at home in front of a good crowd. We had lost three of four, but two were one-run games. I don't think we're slumping and it's not like we weren't playing good baseball. But it's nice to come back and play a good game, have a well-pitched game and get us back on a roll." Kinsler saved the shutout on the final play of the game. The Red Sox had two on and two out when he made a dazzling diving stop to his right on Carl Crawford's blistering ground ball, throwing to first baseman Mitch Moreland from his knees for the final out. "It was a great play, and we needed it," third baseman Michael Young said. "That was the tying run coming to the plate right there if that ball gets through." Left fielder Josh Hamilton also made a terrific diving catch on Marco Scutaro's line drive to start the sixth. "Tonight the defense was awesome," said Wilson, who made a couple of nice stops himself on comebackers and matched a career high with four assists. The Rangers have won 11 of their 13 games at home against the Red Sox at home and 17 of 23 overall against them since the beginning of the 2009 season. "We're going to play aggressive, we're going to play smart, the same way we play every team," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "It's always a good thing when you play great baseball against good teams. That's what you need to do to beat them. We still have three more games to go and we need to continue to play hard." Andrus gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the third with an RBI single and then Mike Napoli broke it open with a three-run home run in the sixth off Bedard. The home run extended Napoli's hitting streak to 11 games and he is hitting .366 with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs over his last 40 games. "I'm just doing the same things I have all year, try to give tough at-bats and drive the ball," Napoli said. "Right now I'm just getting some hits." Wilson ended up going 6 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four to improve to 13-5 with a 3.08 ERA. He threw 40 pitches in the intense heat over the first two innings but was able to get into the seventh before leaving with 110 pitches. "I was able to get some first-, second- and third-pitch outs in the fourth through sixth innings and that kept me out there," Wilson said. "I should have been out there but on the walks I just missed on a few pitches." Wilson is still 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA in August and 9-2 with a 2.88 ERA in his last 17 starts. He is also 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA in five starts against the Red Sox in August. "He attacks the zone with great stuff," Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "It's no secret, he has great stuff. He shut us down." A hot August night was a good time for Wilson to do just that.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.