After some tough goings early, Ryan Dempster has begun to acclimate himself to the American League.
The veteran takes the hill for the Texas Rangers on Wednesday evening aiming to win a fifth straight start in the middle contest of a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians.
The Rangers acquired Dempster from the Chicago Cubs prior to the non-waiver trade deadline in an effort to bolster their playoff chances, but the right- hander struggled through his first three outings. He went 1-1, but allowed 19 runs (16 earned) over 17 1/3 innings.
Dempster, who spent his first 14-plus seasons in the NL, has pitched to a 1.73 ERA however since giving up eight runs in a loss to the New York Yankees on Aug. 13. He won his fourth start in a row on Wednesday at the Kansas City Royals, charged with two runs on four hits and two walks in six innings while striking out eight.
"To get to the playoffs, I'm just trying to do my part every fifth day and be as prepared as I can," said Dempster, who is now 5-1 with a 4.36 ERA in seven starts with Texas. "When my number's up, go out there and do the best that I can."
The right-hander's current win streak also includes a win over the Indians on Aug. 31. Pitching at Cleveland, the 35-year-old Dempster gave up one unearned run over six frames, making him 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA in four lifetime meetings with the Tribe, including three starts.
Dempster's start comes after Matt Harrison took the hill in Tuesday's opener and guided the Rangers to a 6-4 win.
Harrison had struggled in his previous two outings, but did not allow a hit over his first three innings of work. He ended up lasting 5 2/3 frames, charged with two runs on five hits and three walks to claim his 16th win of the season.
"That was really important because we need him," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "He used his slider well and when he got ready to throw his fastball, it was there."
Adrian Beltre clubbed a solo homer -- one that needed to be confirmed following a replay, and scored twice for the Rangers, who have won four of six and maintained a three-game edge over the Oakland Athletics for first place in the AL West.
Texas is 25-14 since the start of August.
Ubaldo Jimenez yielded five runs -- two earned -- on four hits and four walks over five innings to take his fifth straight losing decision.
"I did everything possible to be close on the scoreboard," Jimenez said. "The guys didn't give up, they didn't get disappointed. That's what we have to do is finish the season strong."
Matt LaPorta smacked an RBI double in the setback, Cleveland's fourth in a row.
Getting the call tonight for the Indians will be Jeanmar Gomez, who lasted only three innings in his last start on Friday. He yielded four runs on three hits and three walks as he did not factor into a 7-6 win at the Minnesota Twins.
Gomez, a 24-year-old righty, is 5-7 with a 5.33 ERA in 17 games this season, 15 of those starts, and has made both of his previous career starts versus the Rangers this season. Gomez has won both while giving up six runs over 12 2/3 frames.
This series marks the first in Texas between the Rangers and Indians after they split six earlier encounters in Cleveland. Texas won nine of 10 versus Cleveland a season ago.