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Twins-Rangers Preview

AP - Sports

A season-high five-game losing streak might not be only major concern facing the Texas Rangers.

Back spasms could keep slugger Josh Hamilton out of the lineup Saturday night when the AL West-leading Rangers look to get back on track against the visiting Minnesota Twins.

The leading vote-getter for next week's All-Star game, Hamilton is considered day to day after he injured his back when he dropped a fly ball at the warning track in the fifth inning of Texas' 5-1 loss to Minnesota on Friday. He left the game in the bottom of the frame after going 0 for 2.

"It kind of scared me when it first happened because I didn't know what to expect from a spasm like that," said Hamilton, who leads the majors with 74 RBIs. "I had some weakness in my legs.''

The health of Hamilton is merely the latest issue facing the Rangers (50-34), who have hit .209 and been outscored 34-9 during their five-game skid. The two-time reigning AL champions have not dropped six in a row since April 15-21, 2010.

"We hit a funk,'' manager Ron Washington said. "The only way we can come out of it we have to keep grinding and play our way through it.''

Nelson Cruz had the lone RBI and two of Texas' six hits Friday. Michael Young added a hit, but is 3 for 24 in his last seven contests.

All-Star reserve Elvis Andrus is 0 for 12 in the last three games, while AL starting catcher Mike Napoli is 3 for 27 in his last eight and hitless in his last 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Opting to rest rookie All-Star Yu Darvish, Texas hands the ball to Derek Holland (5-4, 5.10 ERA) for the first time since he was placed on the disabled list with shoulder and elbow fatigue June 7. The left-hander went on the shelf two days after allowing three runs on two homers in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 win at Oakland.

Working to get his strength back, Holland feels ready to go despite allowing three home runs in the sixth inning of a Monday rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock.

"(Holland) got out of it healthy, got deep into the game and we'll see where he goes from there," Washington told the Rangers' official website.

Holland is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in six starts versus Minnesota, but has won his last two home outings against the Twins while limiting them to one run each time.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau each drove in two runs Friday for Minnesota (36-47), which has won six of eight. The Twins' lone All-Star, Mauer is batting .404 with 20 RBIs in his last 25 games.

Sam Deduno will make his first career start and Minnesota debut in this contest. The right-hander, who went 1-2 with a 2.14 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Rochester, posted a 3.18 ERA without a record in six major league appearances for Colorado and San Diego over the past two seasons.

"It's a good chance for me," Deduno told the Twins' official website. "When I was in the big leagues before I didn't pitch much. So it's a good opportunity."

Replacing Nick Blackburn, who was optioned to Rochester this week, Deduno will be the 11th different starter for Minnesota in 2012.

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