Rangers-Cubs Preview

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers appear poised to continue the interleague road success they've enjoyed in recent years, so they probably weren't too happy to see their latest chance in an NL park rained out.

The weather Thursday at Wrigley Field doesn't look any more promising.

The Rangers hope to have another chance for a sixth consecutive interleague road victory in this finale against a Chicago Cubs team looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat.

Adrian Beltre hit a two-run homer, Derek Holland allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings and center fielder Craig Gentry ended the game with a diving catch to preserve Texas' 4-2 win Tuesday.

Wednesday's contest was rained out, and Thursday afternoon's forecast looks just as bad. Strong storms are expected throughout the day.

"Hopefully the weathermen are wrong, but they weren't wrong today," manager Ron Washington told the Rangers' official website.

The only other time the Rangers are set to be in Chicago in 2013 is an Aug. 23-25 visit with the White Sox, so making up one game - let alone two - may be challenging.

"The thing you keep coming back to is that both teams are playing in it," said Texas utilityman Jeff Baker, who spent parts of four years with the Cubs. "Yeah, you're probably not going to have your great individual performance that day but at the same time all that matters is beating that other team and going out there and scoring more runs."

The Rangers (9-5) have won 21 of 27 interleague road contests and own a 22-8 scoring advantage during a five-game winning streak at NL ballparks.

Beltre, who homered for the second time in 2013, is batting .434 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in his last 22 interleague games. He's batted .333 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 20 career games at Wrigley.

He's 3 for 6 against Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 0.64 ERA), who the Cubs will send to the mound after he was scheduled to start Wednesday.

The right-hander has allowed one run and nine hits over 14 innings in his first two starts, but Chicago relievers blew leads in both contests. He gave up three hits in 7 1-3 scoreless innings against San Francisco on Friday, but rookie Kyuji Fujikawa yielded three runs in the ninth before the Cubs (4-9) rallied in the bottom half to win 4-3.

"All we needed is the win," Villanueva said. "Personal stats, whatever."

He is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA as a starter against Texas.

Ex-Ranger Alfonso Soriano, 7 for 12 in the last three contests, is batting .412 during a 16-game hitting streak against Texas, and now he'll face Alexi Ogando.

Rather than sending Justin Grimm out Thursday, the Rangers will push him to Sunday in favor of Ogando (2-0, 1.08), who has looked good despite not pitching particularly deep in games.

The right-hander needed 98 pitches to get through five innings Saturday at Seattle, but only allowed one run and five hits while not receiving a decision in a 3-1 win.

"I thought I pitched well, but threw too many pitches," Ogando said. "... They battled and made me throw a lot of pitches."

Ogando, who has never faced the Cubs, is 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last six road starts dating to August 2011.

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