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Athletics-Rangers Preview

AP - Sports

The Texas Rangers couldn't generate much offense the last time they faced the Oakland Athletics.

The way the A's starters are currently dealing, the hot Texas bats could be tested again in this series.

The AL West-leading Rangers will try to improve their losing record against divisional foes in Thursday night's four-game series opener with the Athletics in Arlington.

In its first of three visits to Oakland in 2012, Texas (47-29) batted .189 while dropping three of four June 4-7. The Rangers totaled eight runs in those four games - six coming in their lone victory.

Since that series, the Rangers have batted .290 and averaged 5.4 runs while winning 14 of 18. Led by David Murphy's two homers and career high-tying five RBIs, Texas defeated Detroit 13-9 on Wednesday to move a season-best 18 games above .500.

The Rangers lead the second-place Los Angeles Angels by 4 1/2 games and are 10 in front of Oakland (37-39), but the two-time defending AL champions are only 10-12 in divisional play including a 2-4 mark against the A's.

"You don't have to beat the teams in your division but it's definitely important," second baseman Ian Kinsler told the Rangers' official website.

While he realizes the importance of this four-game series, Athletics manager Bob Melvin doesn't feel it is a make-or-break trip to Arlington.

"You start looking at (the standings) a little bit later in the season," Melvin told the A's official website following Wednesday's 2-1 victory at Seattle. "I think we go in there trying to play well on that particular day and try to win it and expect to win it."

The A's have dropped eight of their last 10 games at Texas - they split two games in Arlington on May 16 and 17 - but they've won 11 of 15 overall after opening their seven-game road trip by taking two of three in Seattle.

Oakland totaled an anemic five runs on 10 hits in that series, but the club's starters limited the Mariners to three runs in 15 innings.

The Athletics' rotation has a 1.73 ERA over the last 13 games.

Probable Thursday starter Tyson Ross (2-7, 6.02 ERA) has not been particularly dominant as he's shuttled between Oakland and Triple-A Sacramento. Called up for the third time in 2012 with Bartolo Colon (oblique) going on the disabled list, Ross dropped his fourth consecutive major league decision Saturday, walking four and yielding five runs - three earned - in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-8 loss to San Francisco.

The right-hander has never started against Texas, but did go 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three relief appearances against the Rangers in 2010.

He'll be opposed by the Rangers' Scott Feldman (1-6, 6.00), who will take the ball after Colby Lewis went on the disabled list Tuesday with right forearm tendinitis.

"I'm sorry Colby went down but hopefully he'll be back quickly," said Feldman, who threw six strong innings in his last outing - a 7-3 win at San Diego on June 19. "I think I'm getting used to what my role is whatever you want to call it."

Feldman has compiled a 13.75 ERA while losing four consecutive starts against the A's. He lasted 1 2-3 innings - the shortest start of his career - in a 12-1 loss at Oakland on June 4, when he was tagged for eight runs and seven hits.

Athletics rookie Yoenis Cespedes has homered in back-to-back games and is batting .583 (7 for 12) with a homer, triple, two doubles and four RBIs against Texas.

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is batting .567 (17 for 30) during an eight-game hitting streak. He's hitting .441 (15 for 34) with seven homers and 13 RBIs during an eight-game home hitting streak against Oakland.

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