KANSAS CITY -- Joe Nathan picked up his 40th save on Saturday night in the Rangers' 3-1 victory over the Royals. Nathan is only the fourth reliever who has had a 40-save season after his 38th birthday.
Mariano Rivera had three such seasons, while Trevor Hoffman had two and Jose Mesa had one. This is Nathan's fourth season of at least 40 saves and his first since 2009. Nathan now has 341 career saves, 11th most in Major League history. He is three short of Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, who is 10th with 338.
Nathan's scoreless inning left him with a 1.51 ERA for the season. He joins Neal Cotts, who has a 1.04 ERA, and Tanner Scheppers, who has a 1.96 ERA, to give the Rangers three relievers with an ERA under 2.00.
If that holds up, the Rangers will be the first American League team to have three relievers with an ERA under 2.00 for the season with a minimum of 50 innings and 80 percent of them pitched in relief. The 2003 Dodgers and the '02 Braves also had three relievers with an ERA under 2.00. The Braves could end up that way again this season with Luis Avilan, David Carpenter and Craig Kimbrel.
The Rangers' bullpen went into Sunday's game with a 2.94 ERA, second lowest in the AL. The Royals led with a 2.55 ERA. The club record for lowest bullpen ERA in one season is 2.91, set in the strike-shortened season of 1981.
The Rangers were able to avoid using the bulk of their bullpen on Saturday when Matt Garza pitched eight-plus innings. Nathan was the only one used.
"That was huge," manager Ron Washington said.
Rangers uncharacteristically better away from home
KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers enter the final week of the season with a chance to make the playoffs, and their final seven games are at home. That would seem to work in their favor, but the team has not played its best baseball at the Ballpark in Arlington this year.
"I can't put my finger on it," manager Ron Washington said. "I don't know ... the past four years, we have played extremely well there. That doesn't mean in the last seven games we can't get that back."
Texas is 39-35 at home and, going into Sunday's game, it was 45-35 on the road. The 45 wins on the road are the most by any team in the Major Leagues and the second most wins away from Arlington in club history. The 1977 team was 50-31 on the road.
The Rangers have won at least 50 games at home in each of the last three seasons. But even if they win all seven games, that would leave them with 46, their fewest wins at home since 2008. This would be a good time to win all seven considering what's at stake.
"It has not been easy, but we put ourselves in this situation," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "We have to win every game. It's something we put ourselves in. We were in a better position three or four weeks ago, but it's baseball. It's a tough time. We've lost a lot of games and we have to find a way to get out of it ourselves."
The Rangers are hitting .265 with a .410 slugging percentage at home. Both are the lowest in the 20-year history of the Ballpark.
Beltre looks to end slump in last week of season
KANSAS CITY -- Adrian Beltre was the Rangers' Player of the Month for July and August. He is not the early favorite for September.
Beltre went into Sunday's game against the Royals hitting .253 for September. He is 19-for-75 with two doubles and hasn't hit a home run since Aug. 28. He had a .670 slugging percentage in July and .577 in August, but just .280 in September.
"He's just missing pitches," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's had some good passes at balls and just missed them. A lot of baseball has been played right now. You never know when rough times are going to hit."
Beltre said he is fine physically. Mentally, he said he is great and is not putting too much pressure on himself to come through.
"I never put too much pressure on myself," Beltre said. "I'm too old for that. I'm just not getting any hits. The effort is there and the preparation is there, I'm just not getting the results."
Beltre did get a hit and an RBI on Saturday night when his third-inning grounder up the middle hit second base and skidded through the legs of Royals second baseman Emilio Bonifacio. It could have easily been scored an error and no RBI.
"Any time you get a hit or an RBI, it's good," Beltre said. "I'll take it."
Hot-hitting Gentry stays in lineup vs. right-hander
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers manager Ron Washington went with the same lineup for two straight games, meaning Craig Gentry was in left field on Sunday. It was his second straight start against a right-hander, but Gentry is 7-for-9 with four stolen bases in his past two games.
"It's only two games, I just have to keep it going," Gentry said. "Whatever I can do to help the team. All it comes down to is winning games. We have to get something going and finish the season off."
Gentry, going into Sunday's game, was 12-for-35 in September, a .343 average that is the highest on the Rangers among players with at least 20 at-bats this month.
"He's doing a good job," Washington said. "It's a case of riding the hot hand."
David Murphy started for the third straight game after going 2-for-6 with a pair of doubles in the first two games. It was the first time this month that he has started three straight games.
• Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer on the work of Garza on Saturday: "He was attacking guys. What we had on him was he really didn't use his changeup very much, he was mostly fastball-slider, but there were times when he'd flip over a curveball first pitch or a changeup. Especially with A.J. [Pierzyinski] back there -- A.J. knows us from Chicago and he did a great job of calling the game and he executed his pitches very well."
• Garza went eight innings on Saturday night, the longest outing by a Rangers pitcher since Yu Darvish went eight against the Astros on Aug. 12.
• Washington on Royals catcher Salvador Perez: "He's a stud. He's a he-man. He can do some things. He can receive, he can block, he can call a game, he can hit and he can throw. And he's young. It looks like he's got a head on his shoulders. He just needs to take care of himself."
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.