Rangers-Blue Jays Preview

Yu Darvish couldn’t help the Texas Rangers put an end to their

struggles.

Now, the AL West-leading Rangers will turn to a pitcher trying

to stop his own slide when they continue a three-game set against

the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

After being demoted from the rotation on July 30, Roy Oswalt

(4-2, 6.53 ERA) will fill in for Ryan Dempster, who will miss his

scheduled start because of personal reasons. The Rangers didn’t

elaborate, except to say Dempster will rejoin the team Monday.

Instead, it’s up to Oswalt to stem the tide for Texas (68-50),

which dropped the series opener 3-2 on Friday, the team’s fourth

loss in five games.

Oswalt hasn’t started since July 30, when he gave up eight runs

and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 15-8 loss to the Los Angeles

Angels. He made his most recent appearance at Boston on Aug. 8,

yielding four runs and three hits in 1 1-3 innings.

His only career start against Toronto was a two-hitter in a 3-0

victory for Houston on June 12, 2005.

One day after scoring 10 runs at Yankee Stadium, the Rangers

were held to four hits by six Toronto pitchers. Texas’ normally

potent lineup has scored only six runs in four losses on the

seven-game road trip.

“We had some chances for a base hit to make a difference,”

manager Ron Washington said. “If we had made the difference with

one base hit, it would have been our victory, I feel.”

Friday’s victory ended a three-game skid for last-place Toronto,

which has lost 14 of 19 overall and six of nine at home.

Edwin Encarnacion continued the best season of his career with

his team-leading 31st home run after missing Thursday’s game with a

sore wrist. He’s batting .435 (10 for 23) in his last six games but

is 3 for 24 (.125) with nine strikeouts lifetime against

Oswalt.

”I felt good today,” Encarnacion said. ”I can do my swing 100

percent.”

Carlos Villanueva (6-2, 3.12) looks to continue his run of solid

outings for the Blue Jays.

He’s allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his eight

starts and completed at least six innings in six of his past seven

outings. The right-hander limited the Chicago White Sox to one run

and five hits over seven innings Monday but left without a decision

in a game Toronto eventually won in 11.

Villanueva will want to be careful with Rangers slugger Josh

Hamilton, who is 4 for 5 with a homer and a triple in their

matchups.