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Tigers-Rangers Preview

AP - Sports

In a trend that began last postseason, the Texas Rangers have had little trouble beating the Detroit Tigers.

They seem poised to continue that success now that Scott Feldman is suddenly pitching dominant ball.

Feldman looks to win his seventh straight decision in Friday night's series opener between the AL West-leading Rangers and visiting Tigers.

After a day off following Wednesday's 10-9 win over Boston to conclude a 4-2 trip, Texas (65-45) begins a stretch of 20 straight days with a game. The Rangers, who own a 5 1/2-game lead over second-place Oakland, do have the advantage of playing 13 of those games in Arlington. They're an AL-best 34-21 at home.

Texas also has to like the fact that Feldman (6-6, 4.52 ERA) has posted a 1.19 ERA in winning his last three starts, and is 6-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his last seven appearances, which includes a victory in relief.

With his victory in Kansas City on Saturday, Feldman became the first pitcher since Doyle Alexander in 1983 to win six consecutive decisions after starting the season 0-6.

"It's been very timely,'' manager Ron Washington said after the right-hander limited the Royals to two runs in 7 2-3 innings. "He's been our security blanket, really.''

Feldman, who threw a scoreless inning of relief in Detroit in April, tossed 5 2-3 scoreless innings over three relief appearances in last season AL championship series against the Tigers.

The Rangers took the ALCS in six games, and have won five of seven meetings in 2012.

Detroit (60-52), which has lost five of seven on the road, arrives in Texas after blowing a late lead in Thursday's 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees to conclude a seven-game homestand. The Tigers, one game behind Chicago for the AL Central lead, dropped their final two games with the Yankees after winning six in a row overall.

"It doesn't get any easier,'' manager Jim Leyland said.

Facing Texas certainly won't get any easier with Josh Hamilton swinging a hot bat again.

The 2010 AL MVP homered and drove in four runs Wednesday, and is batting .326 with 12 RBIs in his last 10 games. He hit .149 with 10 RBIs in his previous 19.

"He's the heart of the lineup,'' said Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz, who is 6 for 11 with a homer in his last three games. "When he's doing good, everybody's seeing more pitches to hit and drive runners in.''

The Rangers are 20-4 in games when Hamilton has at least two RBIs, but one of those losses came against Detroit. He has four homers and eight RBIs in the season series.

David Murphy is batting .467 with two home runs and seven RBIs against the Tigers this season, while Ian Kinsler also has two homers and has driven in seven.

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, who is hitting .324 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in his last eight games, is batting .357 with a homer and six RBIs against the Rangers this year. He is 7 for 10 with two homers and two doubles lifetime against Feldman.

The Tigers counter with Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.72), who hasn't faced the Rangers since Game 6 of the ALCS, when he gave up six runs in 2 1-3 innings as Texas won 15-5 to take the pennant.

Scherzer gave up four runs and a season-high tying 10 hits in five innings of Sunday's 10-8, 10-inning victory over Cleveland. It was the second straight shaky outing for the righty, who has yielded nine runs in his last two starts after recording a 2.54 ERA in his previous seven.

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