ARLINGTON -- A fabulous September has brought the Rangers their second consecutive American League West title.After a 5-3 victory over the Mariners at the Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night, the Rangers ran their record to 14-6 for the month. The Angels' loss to the A's in Anaheim ensured the division title. "We're playing our best baseball right now," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "That's what you're looking for at the end of the season and that's what we're looking for going into the postseason. We wanted to get everything on track -- defense, situational hitting, pitching -- and that's what we're doing." The Rangers were 16-14 in their final 30 regular-season games last year. "Last year we had a bunch of guys who had never experienced postseason before," outfielder David Murphy said. "We could taste it and we were pressing in September. This month is different. Our experience is really helping. We haven't thought ahead, we've stayed focused on taking care of business each day." The Rangers did so on Friday night with the division title within reach. Three home runs -- including an inside-the-park shot by Craig Gentry -- gave them a 5-0 lead after four innings. That was also Gentry's first Major League home run. Rangers starter Matt Harrison went six innings to earn his 14th win. Harrison had a one-hit shutout going into the sixth before the Mariners scored three runs off him. Manager Ron Washington went to the bullpen in the seventh with the combination of Darren Oliver, Koji Uehara, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz locking down the victory. "He was really good," Washington said of Harrison. "He just lost his command a little bit. But he got us out of the sixth inning and the bullpen did the rest." "I was just trying to go out there and keep making pitches, and keep making them swing the bat, and try to keep them off the bases by not giving them any free passes," Harrison said. "I had some stuff working early in the game, and then I ran into trouble in the sixth. I felt pretty good until then." Adrian Beltre gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the second inning with a two-run home run. He has hit home runs in eight of his last 12 games. He also has 19 RBIs in his last 13 games, giving him 100 on the season. Josh Hamilton's 25th home run made it 3-0 in the third. Gentry came up in the fourth with one out and Nelson Cruz on first. He hit a line drive to left-center where both left fielder Mike Carp and center fielder Trayvon Robinson left their feet trying to make a catch. Both missed and the ball rolled to the wall. By the time Robinson recovered, Gentry was on his way around the bases. "He hit one in the perfect spot," Washington said. "He split the outfielders and did the rest with his legs. I think he slowed down a little bit so he wouldn't pass Cruz." "That was just a tough play," Robinson said. "We did exactly what we were supposed to do, just attack the ball. We just thought we could both get it, without any communication. Thank God we didn't collide with each other or we probably wouldn't be talking right now." Cruz, who is recovering from a strained left hamstring, had to stop at second to make sure the ball wasn't caught. But he was able to get around the bases in plenty of time ahead of Gentry. "I knew I couldn't round first real hard because I didn't want to run up on him," Gentry said. "Luckily, they weren't able to catch it. I stopped around first because I didn't know if he was going to make it around second. Once I hit second base, I knew they were going to send me, so I tried to kick it into gear after then. "I came in and asked, 'That was a home run, right?' They said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'I need that ball, that's my first one.' So [Washington] ran out there and got it for me. Yeah, that was special for me." The Rangers have had many special moments in their September march to another division title.
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.