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Pirates-Rangers Preview

AP - Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates' major league-best interleague record could be tested by the Texas Rangers with Matt Garza on the mound.

The Texas Rangers are 5-0 in Garza's home starts and will try to avoid a three-game sweep Wednesday while adding to A.J. Burnett's road woes.

Pittsburgh (83-61) had been 0-6 all-time in Arlington before this series but former Texas batting coach Clint Hurdle has no doubt enjoyed watching his team open this set with two one-run victories, 1-0 on Monday and 5-4 on Tuesday.

"We're still hunting for more,'' said Jordy Mercer, who had two doubles among his four hits Tuesday. "We want to get more, as much as we can, that's for sure.''

The Pirates, 14-5 in interleague play, trail St. Louis by one game in the NL Central race. They lead Cincinnati by two for home-field advantage in a possible wild-card contest.

Texas (81-63) is in similar position, trailing Oakland by two games in the AL West and leading Tampa Bay by 2 1/2 to host a possible wild-card game.

Garza (3-3, 4.31 ERA) is 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA in his home starts with Texas, which acquired him July 22 from the Chicago Cubs. He hasn't been stellar with a 5.03 ERA over his last seven outings.

The right-hander made his first start of 2013 against Pittsburgh on May 21, pitching five scoreless innings in a 5-4 loss after starting the season on the disabled list with a strained left lat.

Garza is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four career outings versus the Pirates. Former Cubs teammate Marlon Byrd has homered twice off him in 14 at-bats while Pedro Alvarez is 5 for 12.

Hurdle did not start Neil Walker on Tuesday but Wednesday could have been a better day to sit him. The second baseman is 0 for 9 against Garza and hitless in his last 15 at-bats.

Interleague play has also been kind to Burnett (7-10, 3.31). He has a 2.70 ERA and .176 opponent batting average in three starts against the AL although he's 0-1.

Pittsburgh has lost seven of Burnett's last eight road starts, with the right-hander going 1-4 with a 4.80 ERA. He allowed five runs over a season-low three innings Friday to suffer a 12-8 defeat at St. Louis.

Burnett is 4-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 11 career regular-season starts against the Rangers, who he last faced in Game 4 of the 2010 ALCS. He gave up five runs over six innings in a 10-3 loss for the New York Yankees.

Adrian Beltre, 3 for 8 in this series, is a .323 hitter against Burnett with six doubles in 31 at-bats. Beltre struck out against Mark Melancon to end Tuesday's game with two runners aboard.

"We know what his track record is and what he's capable of doing," manager Ron Washington said. "He's a guy who always rises to a challenge. I'm looking forward to him coming back."

Andrew McCutchen is 5 for 9 in this series and 15 for 32 with six walks during a nine-game hitting streak, although he's 2 for 8 against Garza.

Neither team has excelled in day games, with Texas at 19-22 for the worst mark among winning teams while Pittsburgh has split 52 such contests.

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