"We drove the ball out of the park today against a guy who's really been tough on us," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He usually has the ball down in the zone, but he had the ball up a little bit and we took advantage and swung the bats well."
After losing the opener 11-7, the Angels got even in their last series this season at Rangers Ballpark and cut the division gap to two games. The finale is Sunday night, then the AL West front-runners don't play again until the final three games of the regular season on the West Coast.
"It's still too early to focus on how many games you're up or back," Scioscia said. "We have a lot of baseball left after this series. But it's important for us to win games. The fact that we won a game against a team we're trying to catch, sure, that helps but there's a long road ahead of us."
Mike Trout and Bobby Wilson, the last two hitters in the lineup, both went deep in the fourth off Wilson (13-6), who had never given up more than two homers in a game. Peter Bourjos also homered off the Texas starter.
Santana (10-9) pitched with only three days' rest for the first time in his career, and gave up four runs and four hits over seven innings. The right-hander struck out two, walked one, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches.
"There's always a first time for everything. I was prepared and kept focused. It was hot, but I just focused on doing my thing," Santana said. "I was 100 percent positive and trusted my stuff."
David Murphy homered for the Rangers (75-59), who have lost seven of 10 while their division lead dwindled from seven games over the Angels (72-60).
After Texas loaded the bases with one out in the ninth off Jordan Walden, Hisanori Takahaski got his second save in five chances when he induced Murphy into a game-ending double play.
Wilson had allowed only two homers over his previous 15 starts since May 31. After going 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA his previous four August starts allowing only four earned runs, the left-hander gave up six runs and 10 hits in five innings against the Angels.
"The home run was working, the problem is I was the one giving them up," Wilson said. "I feel like it's kind of a weird thing. I don't even really know what to think about that. I just, I was aiming down and the ball was going up. That's what happens sometimes."
Wells put the Angels ahead to stay in the second when his 18th homer made it 1-0. He finished 2 for 4 after an RBI triple in the seventh, and is 9 for 17 his last five games.
"I've made some adjustments, a few changes, and I've been able to be a little more aggressive. I'm in a more balanced position," Wells said. "We've got to get this thing together to win enough ball games to be in it in October."
Torii Hunter had an RBI single in the third before the back-to-back homers in the fourth -- the third for Trout, the youngest player in the majors at 20 years old and 20 days, and the first for Bobby Wilson in his 43 games this season.
After Bourjos hit his ninth homer to start the fifth, Kendrick singled and eventually scored on a single by Erick Aybar. Wells made the final out of the inning when he ran from second and started to go home on Trout's infield single. Shortstop Elvis Andrus threw to catcher Mike Napoli, who ran down Wells and tagged him as both fell down facedown, side-by-side near third base. Before they got up, Wells reached over and patted his former teammate on the back.
Santana hit Napoli on the left wrist with a pitch in the sixth. Napoli twisted back and fell to his knees in obvious pain, but stayed in the game.
Ian Kinsler got hit by a pitch leading off the fourth before Andrus drew a walk. Michael Young had a sacrifice fly and Napoli an RBI single. Nelson Cruz had a leadoff single in the fifth before Murphy's seventh homer. Murphy hit a grand slam Friday to help the Rangers jump out to an 11-0 lead.
It was the fourth homer in five games for Kendrick, who has 13 on the season. ... The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by the teenage son of a Dallas firefighter who died after falling through the roof of a burning structure. Christian band Mercy Me, which also did a pregame concert, wore Dallas Fire Department T-shirts while singing the National Anthem. ... Like Santana on Saturday, Jered Weaver (15-6) starts with only three days' rest for the first time in his career in Sunday's finale. Colby Lewis (11-9) starts for Texas.