ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Ryan Dempster was at least better in his third start over two months against the Angels. He just wasn't able to keep up with a Cy Young candidate zeroing in on his 20th win for a team still very much in the playoff hunt.Angels starter Jered Weaver was just better, or maybe luckier in the eyes of Rangers manager Ron Washington. Either way Weaver held the Rangers to two runs on five hits over seven innings in pitching the Angels to a 7-4 victory on Friday night at the Ballpark in Arlington. The loss left the Rangers with a magic number of three toward winning the American League West and one toward clinching at least a playoff spot for the third straight year. The Athletics defeated the Mariners late Friday night. "You just play the games on the schedule," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We have five more games left and we're going to try to win them all. It's not more difficult because our magic number is three or two or whatever. We come to the yard and try to win a game that day. That's our focus and that's what has made us good and we're going to continue to do that." The Rangers have two left with the Angels and three remaining with the Athletics in Oakland before the season is over. "We're not taking anything for granted," outfielder David Murphy said. "We're going to come out playing hard, keep fighting and keep racking up wins." Dempster, who had allowed 13 runs in eight innings in his previous two starts against the Angels, went 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks. He struck out seven and is now 7-3 with a 4.64 ERA in 11 starts with the Rangers. He is 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA in three starts against the Angels and 7-1 with a 2.92 ERA in eight starts against all other teams since being acquired from the Cubs on July 31. "I thought he was better, he didn't get as many balls up against them as he has in the past," Washington said. "He was competing; you have to give them credit because they swung the bats." Of the seven hits, five went for extra bases, including two solo home runs. Mike Trout led off the first inning with a home run and Chris Iannetta, the Angels catcher batting in the No. 9 spot, hit his ninth of the year with one out in the third inning to make it 2-0. Those two didn't bother Dempster. He wasn't happy giving up a pair of two-out run-scoring doubles to Mark Trumbo in the fourth and sixth innings. "I missed a couple of spots but solo home runs don't beat you," Dempster said. "I gave up two home runs in my last game and we won. I need to make better pitches with two outs. That changed the complexion of the game and kind of put it out of reach." The Rangers missed some chances early against Weaver. In the second with the Angels leading 1-0, Nelson Cruz doubled with one out and Michael Young walked. After Murphy flied out, Mike Napoli ripped a drive to deep left that Trumbo ran down on the warning track. "We were hitting Weaver good all night, we just didn't catch any luck," Washington said. "He didn't have his best stuff tonight. ... He rose to the occasion," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He pitched tonight, and it was a terrific effort." The Rangers, trailing 3-0, also mounted a rally in the fourth when Josh Hamilton led off with a double to right and Adrian Beltre lined a single to right. Hamilton stopped at third as right fielder Torii Hunter threw home. Beltre tried to take second on the throw and was gunned down by Iannetta. Hamilton scored on Nelson Cruz's sacrifice fly to deep left but the Rangers ended up with just one that inning. Washington did not find fault with Beltre's decision. "[Hunter] airmailed the throw," Washington said. "He might have been late in his decision but I agreed with it. Their catcher made a great play." The Angels got the run back in the sixth on another RBI double by Trumbo and then scored three more off Robbie Ross in the seventh. It's only the sixth time that Ross has given up multiple runs in 56 appearances this season. Weaver gave up a home run to Cruz in the seventh before turning it over to the Angels bullpen. He ended up with his 20th win of the season, but this was also just his fourth career victory at the Ballpark. Weaver is 4-7 with a 4.88 ERA in 16 career starts against the Rangers in Arlington as opposed to 9-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 14 starts against them in Anaheim. "I think it's been a nightmare for a lot of pitchers through the years," Weaver said. "It's a tough place to pitch, man, no doubt about it, especially with their lineup. The stadium fits their lineup. You never get a break with those guys. One through nine, you have to make sure you get pitches. I got away with some pitches, they hit some balls hard. Luckily it wasn't too hot out there and the ball didn't carry as much. But no matter where it was, 20 is always nice." Beltre hit a two-run home run off Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen in the eighth but that rally came to an end when Cruz tried to stretch a single into a double and was gunned down at second by Hunter.
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.