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Rangers try to close out ALDS in Game 4 versus Rays

The Texas Rangers can secure their second straight trip to the American League Championship Series this afternoon when they play Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

The Rangers eliminated the Rays from this round last year by winning all three games played in St. Petersburg. Texas continued to have success there on Monday, as Mike Napoli sparked a four-run seventh inning with a two-run homer to lead the Rangers to a 4-3 win.

"I think it has a lot to do with the atmosphere that he's in," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Napoli. "It has a lot to do with the work ethic that he brings. He's a dirt bag. He is a baseball player. He really is. We always knew he had the power, we always knew he had the on-base percentage, and this year he put it together as far as average-wise go."

Only two teams have won more than four consecutive division series road games - Atlanta's eight straight from 1995-99, and the New York Yankees' run of five in a row from 2003-05.

Colby Lewis (1-0), who went 14-10 this season with a 4.40 ERA, only gave up a solo homer to Desmond Jennings over six innings. He struck out six and walked two in his first career postseason road outing.

David Price (0-1), who went 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA this season, allowed three runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings.

"Obviously Colby was a little more dominating, I thought, than David," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "David was working his way through. Some balls were hit, we made some plays. We were in the right spots. So I think Lewis was more dominating than Price to that point, obviously only gave up one hit, and that was the homer."

Getting the call for the Rangers will be left-hander Matt Harrison, who was 14-9 this season with a 3.39 ERA. This will be his first postseason start, but he did throw two-thirds of an inning of relief in Friday's Game 1 loss.

"I think it definitely helped," Harrison said. "It was better for me to do that than just throw on the side. I actually get into the postseason game and get the butterflies out of the way."

Harrison entered the playoffs having gone 4-0 with a 2.64 ERA in five September starts.

Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with rookie right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who was 13-10 this year with a 2.95 ERA.

"I know they are a very good lineup," Hellickson said. "They have a lot of power. You know, a lot of speed at the top of the lineup, too, and I really can't worry about that. I have to go over there and do what I do, and, you know, that's execute -- and hopefully it works out."

Hellickson led all major league rookies in ERA (2.95), innings (189) and quality starts (20) while finishing tied for second in wins (13). He allowed three runs or less in 26 of 29 outings despite pitching in the notoriously tough AL East.

Should he win tonight, Hellickson and Matt Moore would become the first two rookie starters to win a postseason game for the same team since Wilcy Moore and George Pipgras did it for the 1927 Yankees.

It's only the 10th time since 1900 that a team has used two rookie starters in the postseason.

"I feel fortunate as a steward of these young pitchers to have guys of this ability and make up," Maddon said. "It's unusual, man. It's very unusual, and that's what I said before. The one eye on the present, the one eye on the future.

Texas won five of its nine regular season meetings with the Rays, taking two of three in Arlington, while splitting six games at Tropicana Field.

Game 5, if necessary, will be played on Thursday in Arlington.

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