Rangers-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

Ryan Dempster is starting to feel comfortable with the Texas Rangers.

The right-hander looks for a fourth consecutive win Wednesday night when the AL West-leading Rangers try to bounce back from their latest loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Dempster (4-1, 4.58 ERA) went 1-1 with an 8.31 ERA in his first three starts after Texas acquired the veteran from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline. Though it took some time, Dempster finally appears to be settling in with his new club - he's given up three earned runs, 14 hits and struck out 20 over 20 innings in winning his last three starts.

He gave up one run, two hits and struck out seven in six innings of a 5-3 win at Cleveland on Friday.

"He's been around,'' Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He knows how to pitch. He uses both side of the plate. He's a veteran guy."

Dempster is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts versus the Royals - both at Kauffman Stadium. The most recent June 24, 2011, when he gave up four runs - two earned - in six innings while not factoring in the decision of the Cubs' 6-4 victory.

He'll try to help the Rangers (80-55) rebound after Kansas City handed them a 6-3 loss Tuesday to even this four-game set. Elvis Andrus homered and Josh Hamilton added two hits as Texas lost for only the fifth time in 17 games. The Rangers led 2-0 after two innings and had Hamilton at the plate in the third, but Ian Kinsler was picked off third base.

"After Kinsler got picked off at third base, we didn't do much else after that," manager Ron Washington said. "One play didn't change this game. We just didn't score any runs."

The Rangers might have a good chance to get back on track against Kansas City's Everett Teaford (1-3, 4.30), who makes his first start since July 8 on Wednesday after manager Ned Yost decided to skip rookie Will Smith's turn in the rotation.

Teaford, whose season has included time in the minors and a stint on the disabled list with a lower abdominal strain, has made his last eight appearances out of the bullpen. He's 1-1 with a 6.20 ERA in four starts this season.

Though the left-hander is making his first start against the Rangers, he threw 1 2-3 scoreless innings of relief versus Texas during his first major league season in 2011.

It's likely Teaford will not be extended too much in this contest with fellow reliever Vin Mazzaro expected to replace him rather early in the evening. Mazzaro is 3-3 with a 5.60 ERA in 10 games this season, and 1-1 with an 8.31 ERA in four career appearances versus Texas.

Alex Gordon had two hits, including a two-run homer, Tuesday as the Royals (61-74) improved to 4-3 against the Rangers in 2012. Gordon is batting .388 (19 for 49) with two homers and 13 RBIs in his last 12 games.

He is 2 for 3 lifetime versus Dempster.

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