The Texas Rangers will try to make up more ground in the AL West against the Oakland Athletics when the division rivals meet again at the Coliseum on Saturday.
This weekend's three-game set got off to a good start for Texas, which earned an 8-3 win on Friday night. Nelson Cruz went 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI and A.J. Pierzynski finished 2-for-4 with three RBI as one of four players for Texas to have multi-hit games.
Jason Frasor pitched 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief to earn the win for the Rangers, who moved within 2 1/2 games of Oakland for the AL West lead and have won five in a row.
Tommy Milone gave up six runs on nine hits and didn't make it out of the fourth inning as he evened his record at 9-9 with the loss.
Brandon Moss went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI for Oakland but the rest of the team went just 5-for-29 in the losing effort, the third straight for the Athletics.
One of the biggest acquisitions of the trade period gets back on the hill Saturday when Matt Garza takes the ball for Texas.
After spending the first few months of the season with Chicago, Garza was shipped to Texas and pushed into a pennant race when he was traded on July 22 in a deal that sent Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, prospect C.J. Edwards and a player to be named later to the Cubs.
Garza has made two starts for Texas since the trade and has lived up to his billing. First he pitched 7 1/3 innings against the Yankees and allowed just a single unearned run to improve his record to 7-1. Garza followed that effort by allowing three runs over seven innings against the Angels. Though he did not factor in the decision, the Rangers did win the game.
Along with his 7-1 record, Garza also has a sparkling 2.95 ERA on the campaign and has struck out 73 batters in 85 1/3 innings of work.
Interestingly enough, Garza will be making his second start of the season against Oakland. His first was while he was still playing for the Cubs. Garza was masterful in allowing just a single run while matching a season high with eight innings pitched. Garza, who spent the first five years of his career in the American League, is 2-3 with an ERA of 2.70 in six career outings against Oakland.
Opposing Garza in this divisional showdown will be right-hander Jarrod Parker, who will look for his first win since June 18.
Though Parker, who is 6-6 with an ERA of 4.07 and has not won a game since mid-June, has also not taken a loss in that stretch. In the six starts he has made since his last victory, Parker has had to settle for a no-decision each time.
The most recent outing ended in a no-decision thanks to the Oakland offense. Parker allowed six runs on five hits and a season-high seven walks over five innings against the Angels but the Athletics still won the game, 10-6. It snapped a five-game losing streak for Oakland when Parker pitched.
Parker has been solid against Texas this season. In his first start against the Rangers, Parker allowed three runs over seven innings in a 6-2 loss at the end of May. In the second start, Parker lasted seven innings again and allowed just two runs while picking up a victory which coincidentally was the last time he was the winning pitcher.
The Rangers lead the season series with Oakland by a 7-4 margin.