Rangers-Cubs Preview

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.