Rangers seek to even set with Blue Jays

With six losses in their last eight games, the Texas Rangers are fortunate to be only two games out of first in the AL West.

The Rangers hope to move closer to the Oakland Athletics in the standings and will resume a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night.

In a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday, Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers surrendered a go-ahead two-run double to Edwin Encarnacion in the top of the eighth inning.

"I was just looking for my pitch, a fastball," Encarnacion said. "He's a great pitcher, so I was looking for something in the strike zone, and I was aggressive right from the beginning."

Neal Cotts was saddled with the loss because he was responsible for the runners who helped Toronto break a 1-1 tie. Texas starter Yu Darvish had a strong outing wasted and he permitted just a run and three hits in seven innings with nine K's and two walks.

Nelson Cruz homered for the Rangers, who are two games behind the A's and only 1-3 on an 11-game homestand.

"We know we can do a lot better than we've done," said Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre. "We haven't done that lately in these last 10 games or so."

Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin left the game in the eighth inning because of a left wrist injury and X-rays were negative. He is listed as day- to-day and will not be in the lineup Friday against left-hander Mark Buehrle.

"There's no serious damage," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "From a distance, I thought it was his shoulder, but it's his wrist."

Jason Grimm looks to pitch the Rangers out of the loss column when he makes his 12th start Friday. Grimm is 0-1 in his last two starts following a three- start winning streak and did not record a decision Sunday in a 6-4 win at Toronto. He allowed four runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings in his first appearance against the Jays and is 5-4 in 11 overall starts with a 5.25 ERA.

Grimm, a right-hander, is 3-1 in four trips to the Arlington mound.

Toronto has won five of its last seven games and received a big boost from Encarnacion in the eighth inning. Emilio Bonifacio scored twice and came home on the decisive hit for the Blue Jays.

Jays starter Esmil Rogers picked up the victory with seven innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits and walked just one.

"I tried to use my sinker more, and I just threw inside, threw everywhere, to get the ground ball," Rogers said. "That's why I didn't get too many punchouts tonight, but I'm not going to think about that. I'm just thinking about getting the ground ball."

Steve Delabar threw a scoreless eighth and Casey Janssen picked up his 14th save in the ninth.

Meanwhile, Buehrle's first season with the Blue Jays hasn't been so impressive as evidenced by a 2-4 mark in 13 starts with a 5.06 earned run average. He did not factor in the outcome of a 4-3 win versus Texas on Saturday and pitched well, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings.

The veteran left-hander is no stranger to the Rangers and owns a 12-5 record with a 3.31 ERA in 21 career games (18 starts) against them. Buehrle may have trouble on the road Friday and is winless (0-3) in six away starts in 2013.

The Blue Jays took two of three from Texas in a series north of the border last weekend, but the Rangers have won six of the past 10 meetings.