Jered Weaver tries to become the American League's first 20-game winner and keep the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the wild card mix on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Los Angeles trails the Oakland Athletics by two games for the final wild card and are six back of the Rangers in the American League West with six games to go.
"Obviously there's a little bit of scoreboard watching as we dwindle down here, and it kind of sucks that we don't get to play Oakland here at the end," Weaver said after setting a new career high with 19 wins. "That'd be pretty exciting. But we have to do what we have to do, and that's win ballgames. We can't worry about what other teams are doing. We just have to go out there and keep winning.
Weaver won his third straight start on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox, as he allowed a run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings to improve to 19-4, while lowering his ERA to 2.74.
He is 3-1 this season against the Rangers, but is 12-7 lifetime against them with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts.
The Angels wasted a golden opportunity to get even closer to the A's on Thursday, as they were denied a sweep in the finale of their three-game set with the Seattle Mariners, falling 9-4.
Dan Haren (12-12) allowed three runs -- two earned -- on six hits in 5 1/3 innings for Los Angeles, which had its winning streak snapped at five games.
The Angels, though, did not fall any further behind the A's, who lost to the Rangers, 9-7.
Mike Napoli hit a two-run home run and drove in three to power the Rangers, while Ian Kinsler homered and scored twice as Texas earned a split in the series after dropping the last two contests and reduced its magic number to clinch the AL West to three.
"It's not always the best team that wins, but the one that plays the best," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "They played two games better than they did, we played two games better than they did. You can't look back, just look forward. They're still looking up at us."
Matt Harrison (18-10) allowed seven hits and four runs over six innings to win for the third time in his last four starts. Joe Nathan tossed a perfect ninth for his 36th save.
Getting the call for Texas on Friday will be right-hander Ryan Dempster, who has won seven of his nine decisions since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs, but has pitched to a 4.48 ERA. He racked up another victory on Sunday in Seattle, as he held the Mariners to a pair of runs and six hits and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.
"Dempster was really good," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "He kept us off balance all day long. I mean, he's a veteran pitcher. He knows how to get big league hitters out. I thought he was really good today."
Overall, Dempster is 12-7 on the year with a 3.07 ERA.
Dempster is 0-1 in two starts this season versus the Halos and has been ripped for 13 runs and 15 hits in only eight innings of those outings.
These two teams have split 16 meetings this season, but Texas has won four of its last five.