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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, June 5 (All times Eastern)

Baltimore Orioles (30-27) at Texas Rangers (29-30), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Baltimore - Chris Tillman (5-2, 4.63) Texas - Colby Lewis (4-4, 5.44)

(SportsNetwork.com) - Nelson Cruz will try to leave his first trip back to Texas with a little parting gift.

Cruz and the Baltimore Orioles shoot for a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Thursday night's finale.

After spending his previous eight seasons with the Rangers and turning down a $14.1 million qualifying offer in the offseason, Cruz signed a one-year deal with the Orioles and homered in his return to Texas on Tuesday. He added another three hits and scored twice in last night's 6-5 win that featured home runs off the bat of Nick Markakis and Chris Davis.

Markakis extended his hitting streak to nine games after driving in a pair of runs as the Orioles picked up their fourth straight win on the heels of a four-game slide.

"We have been doing what we need to do," Markakis said of the offense. "Sometimes you're going to pitch and not hit, and sometimes you're going to hit and not pitch. Lately, we have been on the same page."

Bud Norris got knocked around for five runs on six hits in five innings of work, but earned the win thanks to Baltimore's offense.

Baltimore also beat the Rangers for the seventh straight time, a span that includes a three-game sweep in Texas from July 19-21 of last year.

Adrian Beltre produced all five Texas runs, homering twice in the Rangers' fourth defeat in their last five games. Beltre has three home runs in this series.

"I'm getting lucky I guess," Beltre said of his recent hitting. "You obviously feel good when you help the team, but it's nothing different."

Nick Martinez was touched for all six runs -- four earned -- on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings to absorb the loss.

The Orioles will shoot for the sweep behind Chris Tillman, who will move up from his scheduled start on Saturday to pitch tonight in place of the ailing Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez was scratched from this start due to pain on his right side and he had an MRI on Wednesday.

Tillman, who will still be on regular rest, had an up-and-down May. He hurled a five-hit shutout at Kansas City on May 16, then yielded 14 runs over just 6 2/3 total innings in back-to-back no-decisions.

The right-hander then rebounded to beat Houston 4-1 on Saturday, giving up a run on four hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings.

Tillman is 5-2 with a 4.63 earned run average on the season and the 26-year- old is 3-1 lifetime versus the Rangers with a 3.21 ERA.

Colby Lewis gets the call for the Rangers having split his last six decisions. He has given up four runs over 17 innings in the three wins while getting charged with 17 earned runs in 15 1/3 frames in the setbacks.

Lewis, a 34-year-old righty, dropped a 9-2 decision to the Washington Nationals last time out on Friday, yielding five runs on nine hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings to fall to 4-4 on the year with a 5.44 ERA.

Lewis is just 1-4 in his career versus the Orioles, posting a 5.97 ERA in seven meetings with five starts.

06/05 10:40:33 ET

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