Updated at: 09/21/2013 10:36 PM
(AP) KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City has gone 27 years without making the playoffs and time is running out for the Royals to not extend that streak to 28.
Matt Garza pitched eight impressive innings for his first victory in six starts and the Texas Rangers kept close in the playoff race, beating the Royals 3-1 on Saturday night.
The Rangers won for only the fifth time in 19 September games to remain a half-game behind Cleveland for the second AL wild-card berth.
The Royals, out of the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series, dropped 3 1/2 games in back of the Indians.
"We know we can’t do anything unless we win," said Eric Hosmer, who homered in the ninth for the only Royals’ run. "We’re still in it. We’re not out of it yet. We’ll come out and do our end of the bargain."
The Royals have eight games remaining with the last seven are on the road, but against the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox, clubs with losing records.
A rare Kauffman Stadium sellout Saturday night could not spark the Royals to a victory against Garza.
"The crowd was into the game, the whole game," said Jarrod Dyson, who tripled with two out in the fourth, but was stranded when Alcides Escobar struck out looking. "Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win for them. We’ve got to bounce back for them."
With six clubs bunched within 3 1/2 games for two wild-card playoff berths, the Royals appear to be in dire straits.
"I go day to day," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The only thing I think about is what is it going to take to win tomorrow."
Adrian Beltre got two hits and drove in a run for Texas.
Garza (10-6) was 0-3 with an 8.22 ERA in his first three September starts. He pitched four-hit ball before giving up Hosmer’s leadoff home run in the ninth and getting pulled.
"He challenged everybody with his fastball," Dyson said. "A lot of times guys can’t get away with that. He had his stuff working."
Garza struck out five and walked one.
"We were a little more than off-balance," Yost said. "He was really good. He was really pounding the strike zone. He threw, I think, 70 strikes and 26 balls. He had a good fastball, a really good slider, and a good chase pitch. He was ahead all night. He pitched a really good game."
Garza is 4-5 in 12 starts since the Rangers acquired him on July 22 in a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
"Garza had a nice start," losing pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said. "It was going to take an extraordinary game to beat him."
After Hosmer’s 17th homer, Joe Nathan relieved. The Texas closer struck out two for his 40th save in 43 chances. Nathan posted his 41st career save against the Royals.
Guthrie (14-12) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings. He has permitted six runs and 20 hits in 14 innings in losing his past two starts.
Beltre’s .374 career batting average at Kauffman Stadium is the highest for an opposing batter with at least 150 plate appearances.
Guthrie gave up a triple to Ian Kinsler to lead off the game. Kinsler scored on Elvis Andrus’ groundout.
In the third, Guthrie’s control betrayed him when he walked Andrus and Alex Rios on eight pitches, and both scored.
Beltre bounced an RBI single up the middle and A.J. Pierzynski had a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Craig Gentry had three hits and stole a base for the Rangers. He became the fourth different starting left fielder in as many games for Texas. The others were David Murphy, Joey Butler and Jim Adduci. ... Royals RHP James Shields, who starts Sunday, is 10-3 since June 28 after starting the season 2-6. .Dyson is batting .308 with a .387 on-base percentage this season at Kauffman Stadium.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)