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Angels-Rangers Preview

AP - Sports

Matt Garza snapped his longest losing streak of the season with a tremendous effort over the weekend.

A repeat performance could go a long way for the Texas Rangers, who continue to keep pace in the AL wild-card hunt.

Garza tries to lead the Rangers to a fourth consecutive win Thursday night in the opener of a four-game home set against the Los Angeles Angels.

After going 0-4 with a 5.83 ERA in his previous five starts, Garza (4-5, 4.56 ERA) finally found his form Saturday in a 3-1 win at Kansas City. The right-hander carried a four-hit shutout into the ninth inning before giving up a leadoff homer to Eric Hosmer.

"You're the only one who can do it," he said of bouncing back. "I just got back to being comfortable, back to being who I was. It's a lot funnier this way. I can enjoy it a little more.

"I've just got to keep it simple. That's kind of been my whole thing and it's kind of who I am. ... It's no time to work on anything anymore."

The Rangers (87-71) are coming off a three-game sweep of Houston, winning 7-3 in Wednesday's finale. Ian Kinsler went 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs and Leonys Martin delivered a three-run double for Texas, which remained one game behind Cleveland for the second wild-card spot.

"You just get the mentality of taking care of the business that's in front of you," manager Ron Washington said. "If we can continue to win ballgames, I don't care what they do. And if they win out the streak and we win out the string also, then that's just the way it is."

The Rangers have taken 11 of 15 from Los Angeles (78-80), which is seeking a third consecutive win after beating Oakland 3-1 on Wednesday. Erick Aybar collected three hits and Josh Hamilton went 2 for 4 with two RBIs as the Angels improved to 23-9 since Aug. 23.

"Obviously we're not really playing for much right now, but we still want to go out and give them hell," winning pitcher Jered Weaver said. "It was nice to be able to finish strong. It's kind of bittersweet. We wish we were still playing (next week). That's the goal."

Los Angeles now turns to Jerome Williams (9-10, 4.55). The right-hander has compiled a 3.75 ERA during a four-start winning streak, his longest since winning a career-high five consecutive starts as a rookie with San Francisco from June 21-July 12, 2003.

Williams issued a season-worst five walks Saturday but managed to limit the damage, yielding one run in 5 2-3 innings to beat Seattle 6-5.

"I always want to go out there and do my best," he said. "I've had a couple of rough stretches, and now I just want to finish strong and end this season on a good note."

Williams went 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in his first two starts versus Texas before surrendering five runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-2 loss Aug. 5. While Adrian Beltre is 10 for 24 with two homers against him, A.J. Pierzynski is 1 for 15. Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus have also struggled, going a combined 8 for 43.

Garza, meanwhile, is 0-2 with a 5.61 ERA in seven career outings versus Los Angeles. Howie Kendrick is 6 for 9 with a homer in their matchups, but Hamilton is 5 for 24.

While the Angels have won 16 of 20 on the road, they have dropped four straight and five of six in Arlington this year.

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