Rangers-Cubs Preview

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers appear poised this season to continue the interleague road success they've enjoyed in recent years.

After holding on for their latest victory against an NL opponent, the Rangers try for a sixth consecutive interleague road victory Wednesday night versus 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 at Wrigley Field.

"I figured four runs - we'd get an out before they got four or five,'' manager Ron Washington said. "So we ended up doing it. It took a great play in center but we did it.''

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 scheduled starter Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 0.64 ERA), who has been victimized by his team's suspect bullpen in 2013.

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 of the frame 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 the Rangers.

Alfonso Soriano had two hits Tuesday for the Cubs, who got a two-run double by Nate Schierholtz in the ninth off closer Joe Nathan to make things interesting. With the bases loaded, Gentry made a diving catch on Darwin Barney's liner to send Chicago to its 12th loss in 15 interleague home games.

"We did a good job of putting an inning together there,'' said Barney, the Gold Glove second baseman who came off the disabled list but went 0-for-4 in his 2013 debut. "We've been doing that this year, putting together a rally in the ninth inning. It's time to start doing that a little earlier maybe as a team.''

Ex-Ranger Soriano, 7 for 12 in the last three contests, is batting .412 during a 16-game hitting streak against the Rangers.

Soriano and the Cubs look to bounce back when they get their first look at Texas' Justin Grimm, who allowed two runs, five hits and walked three on 92 pitches over four innings of a 4-3 win at Seattle on Thursday.

"It was a matter of not trusting my stuff, but when I had to trust it, I did. It could have been a lot worse," Grimm told the Rangers' official website. "At least I battled and gave my team a chance."

The right-hander is in the rotation while Matt Harrison remains on the disabled list with a lower-back injury.

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