ARLINGTON, Texas — C.J. Wilson said plenty trying to persuade manager Ron Washington to let him pitch to one more Boston batter.
The left-hander had already done enough for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers in their 7-3 victory over the Red Sox on a steamy Sunday afternoon.
“I said I got this guy out a couple of times already, I get him out historically and I really need to work on my neck tan,” Wilson said. “I was like, ‘Can you just leave me in?’ And he was like, ‘No, sorry, you did everything you’ve got to do today.”’
Wilson rebounded from consecutive subpar starts with 7 2-3 strong innings, limiting the Red Sox to one run and four hits while the Rangers stretched their division lead to 8½ games after the Los Angeles Angels lost to Toronto.
“C.J. was the story of the game. That was incredible,” said Michael Young, whose three-run homer in the seventh had given Texas an 5-0 lead.
Wilson exited with that advantage and a runner at first after throwing 75 of his 113 pitches for strikes and the thermometer at Rangers Ballpark reading 103 degrees. He had eight strikeouts and one walk.
While Wilson has now won a career-best four consecutive decisions since mid-July, he was coming off back-to-back starts when he didn’t make it past the sixth inning and got no-decisions in games the Rangers won — one when he lasted only a season-low three innings.
Eric Patterson reached on a two-out infield single in the eighth that deflected off Wilson’s glove. Leadoff hitter Marco Scutaro was due up when Washington went to the mound.
“He needed to go out and load up the strike zone with pitches, and he did,” Washington said. “The eighth inning, 113 pitches, we felt that was far enough. He didn’t need to stand out there and throw 120 pitches.”
Young’s homer came on the first pitch thrown by reliever Manny Delcarmen after the Rangers had gone ahead using small ball.
Texas led for good in the second against Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-4) when Jorge Cantu singled, advanced on a walk and sacrifice bunt before scoring on Andres Blanco’s sacrifice fly.
Rookie Mitch Moreland led off the seventh with a single before Taylor Teagarden had his second sac bunt of the game. After a groundout, Moreland scored on Julio Borbon’s two-out bunt single. Elvis Andrus’ single chased Dice-K, leaving two on for Young.
“That was the type of game we were in at that point, where we had to just try to get runners in scoring position because both C.J. and Matsuzaka locked up and they were in a pretty good pitcher’s duel,” Washington said. “We had to take opportunities when they were out there.’
Matsuzaka struck out eight and walked two in 6 2-3 innings, losing for the first time in eight starts since June 30.
“His stuff was good and he felt confident,” manager Terry Francona said. “The problem wasn’t Dice, it was how the other guy pitched.”
Dice-K did get his 500th career strikeout in his 91st career game, that coming when Blanco struck out swinging to start the fifth.
The only Red Sox pitcher since 1920 to reach 500 strikeouts in less time was Roger Clemens, who got his 500th in his 79th game. Only two AL pitchers since 1995 have reached that plateau quicker than Matsuzaka, Scott Kazmir in his 84th game and Felix Hernandez in his 87th game.
After Pedro Strop took over for Wilson, Scutaro had an RBI double to left and Darnell McDonald homered just over the right-field wall to make it 5-3. Strop got out of the jam when Victor Martinez took a called third strike, his third strikeout of the game.
Neftali Feliz worked the ninth even though it wasn’t a save situation after Texas added two runs in the eighth — on RBI singles by Blanco and Borbon.
The 22-year-old All-Star rookie closer hasn’t had a save since July 31 and is still one shy of becoming the youngest pitcher ever with a 30-save season.
Young’s 19th homer, a 419-foot shot to left-center, landed close to where new owner Chuck Greenberg was mingling with fans.
“Manny left a change-up up,” Francona said, “and it went a long way.”
NOTES: Red Sox C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had a game-winning hit for the Rangers in the season opener, made his second start for Boston since being traded from Texas on July 31. Salty was 0 for 3 with a walk. … The Rangers say they plan Monday to sign OF Willy Taveras to a minor league contract. … The game-time temperature was actually only 99 degrees. … With an announced crowd of 30,252, the Rangers’ streak of three consecutive sellouts (all night games) ended. They hadn’t had three straight sellout since July 2004.