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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, August 9th (All times Eastern)

Texas Rangers (65-50) at Houston Astros (37-76), 8:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Texas - Matt Garza (1-1, 2.82) Houston - Erik Bedard (3-8, 4.29)

(Sports Network) - Right-hander Matt Garza takes the mound for the fourth time with the Texas Rangers on Friday night when they head to Minute Maid Park to open a three-game series with the host Houston Astros.

Garza began the season with the Chicago Cubs and was 6-1 in 11 starts with a stingy 3.17 earned run average through 71 innings.

He was dealt to the Rangers on July 22 in a transaction that sent Justin Grimm, Mike Olt, a minor-leaguer and players to be named later to the Cubs.

Garza debuted with the Rangers two days later and was a 3-1 winner over the New York Yankees after allowing an unearned run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings of work.

In two subsequent starts, which have yielded a loss and a no-decision, he's given up 13 hits and seven runs in 15 innings.

He's 2-3 in seven career starts against Houston.

For the Astros, veteran lefty Erik Bedard makes a seventh try for his first win since June 26.

The 34-year-old Canadian was 3-3 on the season after a 4-3 defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals, but has since gone 0-5 in six starts - in spite of lowering his earned run average from 4.44 to 4.29.

The Astros have lost each of the last six games he's pitched, while scoring just 10 runs and being shut out three times.

In those six outings, Bedard has allowed 19 runs in 28 hits in 34 innings.

He is 5-5 in 18 meetings with Texas, including a 5-4 loss on July 7 in which he worked 6 1/3 innings and allowed five runs.

On Wednesday in Anaheim, Adrian Beltre went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run, three RBI and four runs scored as the Rangers thumped the LA Angels of Anaheim, 10-3, to sweep a three-game set.

Mitch Moreland and David Murphy each drove in two runs, while Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus each scored twice for the Rangers, who have won four straight and nine of 10.

"It's nice to be back in the hunt again," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We have to continue to play our baseball. To be successful you have to win your division. The whole team is playing tremendous baseball. Tonight was a step forward."

Alexi Ogando (5-3) pitched five innings to get the win, giving up two runs and four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

The Rangers had seven stolen bases with Martin and Andrus each having three.

"We've been more consistent getting big hits. First place is the place we're supposed to be," Beltre said. "It was fun tonight. We found a way to score runs. We took advantage of a team that is not playing well right now."

In Houston, Stephen Drew cracked a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth and the Boston Red Sox rallied for a second straight day to defeat the Astros, 7-5, and claim the rubber match of a three-game set.

Drew stepped to the plate after Josh Fields (1-2) gave up David Ortiz's fourth hit of the day and a walk to Jonny Gomes, and sent a no-doubter into the right field seats to put the Red Sox in front.

The Astros held a five-run lead on Tuesday before losing 15-10, and failed to maintain a three-run edge in Wednesday's series finale. Robbie Grossman went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the team's sixth defeat in seven games.

The Rangers won seven of the first nine games between the teams in 2013, including two of three on their home field from July 5 to 7.

08/09 10:42:00 ET

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