Rays try to avoid sweep against Rangers

Rays try to avoid sweep against Rangers

Published Aug. 29, 2012 9:17 a.m. ET

Matt Harrison is trying to gain a share of AL wins lead. Taking the mound at home may improve his chances.

He goes for win No. 16 on Wednesday for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, who aim to sweep their three-game series from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Harrison (15-7, 3.04 ERA) has emerged as the Rangers' most reliable starter in just his second full season in the majors. If he wins Wednesday, he would move into a three-way tie for the league lead with Jered Weaver of Los Angeles and David Price, who was charged with Tampa Bay's 6-5 loss in Monday's series opener.

Harrison carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Friday's 8-0 victory over Minnesota, eventually leaving after allowing two hits and two walks in eight frames to improve to 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA in his last six home starts.

"I just have to keep building on this," Harrison told the Rangers' official website. "It took me a couple of innings to get locked in, but after the third I was on a roll. I just wanted to stay aggressive, keep making pitches and get us into the dugout."

The left-hander fared poorly against Tampa Bay (70-59) on April 27, allowing seven runs and a career-high 14 hits in five innings of an 8-4 home loss.

The Rays, however, are batting .194 and have totaled 11 runs during their current losing streak, which reached four after Tuesday's 1-0 defeat - their fourth loss by that score in their last 22 contests.

Yu Darvish struck out 10 in seven innings to earn the win for Texas.

"The pain factor is closer to a 10, when you get shut out 1-0," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, whose club has fallen 1 1/2 games behind wild-card leaders Baltimore and Oakland. "We've had the displeasure of experiencing that often in the recent past, but I know one thing about our guys, we're going to show up (Wednesday)."

It's unclear if Matt Joyce will show up after he left Tuesday's loss with a left forearm strain. Sam Fuld replaced him in right field and had three hits.

Probable Rays starter Alex Cobb (8-8, 4.32) has yielded either one run or none in four of his last five starts - all ending in Tampa Bay wins.

The right-hander tossed his first career shutout Thursday, a four-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 5-0 victory over Oakland. That was a dramatic improvement from his previous outing, when he was tagged for a career high-tying eight runs and 12 hits - two homers - in 2 2-3 innings of a 10-8 win at Los Angeles.

"Nothing worked the last time. And to his credit, he just threw that in the trash can and did this," manager Joe Maddon said after Thursday's win.

Cobb didn't get a decision in his only career meeting with the Rangers, allowing three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a home victory May 31, 2011.

Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is 1 for 3 versus Cobb, is hitting .343 with three home runs and 10 RBIs over his last nine games after driving in Tuesday's lone run with a solo homer.