Akinori Otsuka allowed a leadoff triple in the ninth before getting the middle of Detroit's lineup to hit three straight groundouts, saving a 2-1 win over the Tigers on Friday night.
"To do that against that club is phenomenal," said Don Wakamatsu, who filled in for Texas' suspended manager Buck Showalter.
The Rangers were in a position to beat Detroit, which has had several late-inning comebacks, because Kevin Millwood pitched seven strong innings and Mark Teixeira hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth.
Texas has won seven of nine -- after losing 11 of 16 -- to stay in the AL West race.
Dmitri Young homered for the suddenly skidding Tigers, who have dropped seven of their last 10 games but still have the best record in baseball.
"We couldn't ask for it any better," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We got a man on third, nobody out, and we had three, four and five -- all good hitters.
"It looked like it could be a magical win for the home team, but the pitcher made pitches and we couldn't get the ball to the outfield. I have no problem with that because that's why this is a great game."
The Tigers have won six games when trailing after eight innings and 11 when trailing after seven.
"I was getting ready to run down the tunnel to celebrate," losing pitcher Zach Miner said. "We've done it so many times, it was bound to not happen for us."
Millwood (12-8) allowed only one run and three hits -- two to Young. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter to win consecutive starts after going 0-3 in his previous four.
"Between the last start and this one, I decided to stop thinking so much," Millwood said. "I just tried to play catch with the catcher and simplified things a lot."
After Young's single in the first, Millwood retired 17 of the next 18 Tigers with the exception being Young's solo homer in the fourth, which tied it at 1.
"He's a horse," Leyland said. "That's the Kevin Millwood the Texas Rangers signed."
Millwood signed a $60 million, five-year contract in the offseason.
Teixeira's solo home run in the sixth inning put the Rangers on top.
"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit," Teixeira said. "I was lucky to get a changeup in the zone."
Miner (7-4) gave up two runs, eight hits and one walk over six innings for the Tigers. The rookie has won only one of his last seven starts after winning six straight.
"Miner was good. Millwood was better," Leyland said. "He had good stuff and obviously shut us down."
Detroit relievers Jason Grilli and Wilfredo Ledezma combined to pitch three innings of hitless relief.
The Rangers went ahead 1-0 in the fourth on Ian Kinsler's RBI single, the third hit of the inning.
- Before serving his second game of a four-game suspension, Showalter said he wouldn't attempt to have his punishment reduced. Showalter and pitchers Vicente Padilla and Scott Feldman were suspended for their role in Wednesday night's on-field altercation with the Los Angeles Angels.
- Detroit LHP Mike Maroth is scheduled to make his third rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Toledo, but Leyland said he won't use a six-man rotation when Maroth is ready to return.
- Teixeira has 10 homers since the All-Star break after hitting nine in the 88 games before it, and has reached base safely in 40 of his last 41 games.
- Millwood is 8-2 on the road.
- Young has six homers in 20 games since being activated following an absence from the team to deal with alcohol and drug problems.