Blue Jays-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

On the verge of their longest winning streak in nearly two years, the Toronto Blue Jays are slowly creeping back to .500.

The Texas Rangers, meanwhile, are trying to avoid their worst home losing streak in eight years.

The surging Blue Jays look for a historic sweep in Arlington on Sunday against a Texas team that has dropped five straight at home.

Following Saturday's 6-1 victory, Toronto (31-36) has a chance to win five consecutive games for the first time since July 8-15, 2011, and capture the first four-game sweep at Texas in the 36-year history of the franchise.

The Blue Jays, whose run has come after dropping the opener of a rainout-shortened six-game trip, have moved within five games of the break-even point for the first time since April 25, when they were 9-14.

Toronto has also won seven of nine overall, largely because the pitching staff has a 1.36 ERA in those victories.

Chien-Ming Wang (0-0, 6.14 ERA) hopes to become the latest pitcher to shut down a scuffling Texas offense that's batting .224 and has totaled six runs during a season-worst five-game skid.

The Rangers (38-30), winless since the opener of an 11-game homestand, are 3 for 26 with runners in scoring position during the losing streak. They haven't dropped six straight at home since a seven-game slide from July 20-Aug. 3, 2005.

"It's just simple baseball, getting base hits with runners in scoring position,'' manager Ron Washington said. "It's not just one part of the batting order. It's up and down the lineup.''

They'll try to turn things around against Wang, who makes his second start after signing with the injury-riddled Blue Jays on Monday. The right-hander lasted 7 1-3 innings while giving up five runs and 10 hits in a 7-5, 10-inning win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

"I thought he did a great job,'' manager John Gibbons said. "He really did.''

Wang, who went 2-3 with a 6.68 ERA for Washington last season, is 2-1 with a 6.12 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers, though hasn't faced them since 2009.

Adrian Beltre (3 for 20), A.J. Pierzynski (0 for 8) and Nelson Cruz (1 for 7) haven't been able to figure out Wang, though David Murphy is 3 for 5 with a double in their matchups.

Beltre has been a bright spot for the sputtering Rangers, going 6 for 13 with two walks in his last four games.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler, who missed 25 games because of bruised ribs, went 0 for 4 after making a surprising return Saturday. He's hitless in six career at-bats against Wang.

Texas, 1-5 versus Toronto this season, hopes left-hander Derek Holland (5-3, 3.11) can bounce back from a disappointing effort in his last start.

Holland had won four straight decisions before getting pinned with his first loss since April 27 on Tuesday. He allowed four runs and nine hits over a season-low 4 1-3 innings in a 5-2 loss to Cleveland.

Holland is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA in four starts versus the Blue Jays since getting tagged for a career-worst 10 runs over three-plus innings against them Aug. 31, 2009.

Slugger Jose Bautista is 3 for 14 all-time against Holland, while Melky Cabrera is 1 for 19 in his last five games against the Rangers.

Teammate Colby Rasmus, however, has homered in each of the last two games of this series.