Brewers-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The AL West-leading Texas Rangers have earned the majority of their season-high eight straight wins against sub-.500 teams.

That string of lackluster opponents isn't ending any time soon.

The Milwaukee Brewers, though, have played relatively well in the past week and should get Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup as they try to snap the Rangers' run Tuesday night in Arlington.

After winning two of three at Oakland, Texas (69-50) concluded its road trip by sweeping the Los Angeles Angels and last-place Houston. Yu Darvish took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in a 2-1 victory over the Astros on Monday, helping the club maintain its one-game division lead over the A's.

The Rangers, winners in 13 of 14, will face six more teams with losing records until visiting the A's from Sept. 2-4. Milwaukee (51-67) is the next of those opponents, but it enters this two-game series having won five of eight.

The Brewers had 20 runs and 27 hits in their first two games in Seattle before falling 2-0 in Sunday's finale against Felix Hernandez. They're expected to get some help Tuesday, though, as Ramirez returns from a sprained left knee.

The third baseman was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season July 8 because of that ailment. The Brewers wanted Ramirez to go on a rehab assignment, but with the club wrapping up a nine-game road trip, he declined - just as he did upon returning in May.

Ramirez is expected to bat cleanup and serve as the designated hitter in one of the games against Texas and start at third base in the other.

"I know he's been out a long time and it's probably not ideal (to immediately have Ramirez bat cleanup)," manager Ron Roenicke told the Brewers' official website. "It's not ideal that he doesn't go out on rehab, either. But, sometimes, that's what we do."

The Rangers haven't won nine straight since a 12-game run July 4-19, 2011, and they're also seeking a season-high fifth consecutive home win as they send Alexi Ogando (5-3, 3.28 ERA) to the mound.

The right-hander hasn't pitched past the fifth inning in four outings since returning from a seven-week absence with to inflammation in his pitching shoulder. Ogando, however, was perhaps the sharpest he's been since returning Wednesday in Anaheim, giving up two runs and four hits over five in a 10-3 rout of the Angels that was his first win since May 15.

"I thought Ogando progressed," manager Ron Washington told the team's official website. "Tonight was a step forward."

Ogando is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in three home starts this season.

Marco Estrada (4-4, 4.96) made his return from a strained left hamstring in a 6-1 win in San Francisco on Wednesday. He held the Giants to one hit over five innings, fanning six before the Brewers' offense turned it on late in a 6-1 win.

"Obviously, I was very excited. It was great to be out there again. It's been a long time," he told the team's official website after his first start since June 3.

Estrada has been quite good outside of Milwaukee. He has a 3.07 ERA in seven road starts - his home ERA is 7.71 - and his opponents' road OPS of .603 is among the best in baseball.

The teams split two games at Miller Park from May 7-8. The Rangers have won five of eight overall meetings since the Brewers left the AL after the 1997 season.

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