Athletics-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers haven't won consecutive games all month and now will try to do it by overcoming one of baseball's best pitchers after his team loses.

The major league-worst Rangers look to win the first two in their three-game home set with baseball-best Oakland, but 24-year-old stopper Sonny Gray takes the mound for the A's seeking to win a fifth straight start Saturday night.

Oakland starters had posted an MLB-best 2.13 ERA over a 17-game stretch heading into Friday's opener before Jason Hammel lost his third straight start since being acquired to shore up the rotation.

Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre had two hits apiece for Texas (41-62), which snapped an eight-game home losing streak with only its sixth win in 33 games overall. The only time the Rangers have won back-to-back contests in that span was June 27-28.

The A's (63-39) have won six consecutive starts made by Gray (11-3, 2.72 ERA), and he's won the last four while allowing three earned runs over 28 1-3 innings.

Three of those victories came after Oakland lost. Gray is 8-1 following a team loss, tied with Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen for the majors' best record among starters with at least nine decisions in those situations.

That record includes Sunday's 10-2 home win over Baltimore, giving up one earned run and only two hits with eight strikeouts over 6 2-3 innings.

"I feel good," Gray told MLB's official website. "Just really can't wait to get back out there every time I come off the mound."

The right-hander has won five straight decisions overall dating to a victory over the Rangers, surrendering two runs in seven innings of a 4-2 win June 18. He also allowed three runs over seven innings in a 3-0 loss to Texas on April 23, but fired a two-hitter in a 4-0 victory five days later in his only career start in Arlington.

Andrus is 1 for 11 against Gray and Beltre is 0 for 6.

The Rangers will try to provide some support for Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.87), who had his start pushed back one day after having to pitch in Tuesday's 14-inning loss to the New York Yankees.

The right-hander recorded only one out and took the loss that night, part of his 0-3 record and 8.10 ERA in his last four games. He did not factor in the decision in his most recent start Sunday, giving up five runs and nine hits over 4 1-3 innings in a 9-6 loss at Toronto.

Though Tepesch hasn't pitched badly in Arlington this year with a 2-2 record and a 3.60 ERA, he hasn't fared so well when facing the A's. He's 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA in two starts against them, giving up four runs and nine hits over five innings opposite Gray last month.

Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson each went 2 for 3 off Tepesch in that contest. Cespedes had an RBI single Friday after missing one game with a sprained right thumb and is batting .360, including a two-homer effort Wednesday, since winning a second consecutive Home Run Derby during the All-Star break. Donaldson has seven RBIs since the break but went hitless Friday.

Oakland went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and had seven hits after batting .333 over a four-game stretch in which it totaled 34 runs.

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