Texas hopes Garza can right ship in Kansas City

If the Texas Rangers fail to reach the postseason, part of the blame may be headed in the direction of right-hander Matt Garza.

Garza tries to right the ship on Saturday when the Rangers continue a three- game series with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Texas was lauded for acquiring Garza back in late July, but things haven't gone as planned, especially of late. Garza has lost three of his last four starts and was miserable in a loss to Tampa Bay on Monday, as he allowed six runs in just 4 1/3 innings to fall to 3-5 with a 4.94 ERA in 11 starts for the Rangers.

"What's galling is, I'm letting my team down," Garza said. "It doesn't matter who I'm against, it's my team that's the one I care about. I can't pick anything out, I'm just falling behind in counts. That's about it.

"You give them good counts to hit in, the breaks aren't going to go your way. You get ahead in counts and put them in uncomfortable positions, things tend to go your way. My job is to help us get to October, and I'm still going to do that, keep trying, keep working, keep pushing. There's no quit, just keep going and be ready in five days."

Garza's struggles may continue, as he owns a 1-5 lifetime mark versus the Royals with a 3.83 ERA in eight starts.

Kansas City, meanwhile, will turn to righty Jeremy Guthrie, who is 14-11 with a 4.08 ERA. Guthrie lost in Detroit on Sunday, as he surrendered three runs and 13 hits in eight innings.

Guthrie has faced the Rangers 14 times (11 starts) and is 4-3 with a 3.77 ERA against them.

Texas' recent struggles continued on Friday, as Alcides Escobar worked a bases-loaded walk to plate the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift Kansas City to a 2-1 win.

"These games, they're all going to be like this," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "They're all going to be nail biters, they're all going to be close and defense is going to be the difference."

Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer tallied a pair of hits apiece for the Royals, who have won six of their last nine games. Luke Hochevar (5-2) picked up the final two outs in the eight to tally the win.

With the win, the Royals moved 2 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second American League wild-card spot.

A.J. Pierzynski cracked an RBI double for Texas, which has dropped nine of its last 11 and now no longer hold one of the two coveted wild-card slots in the AL.

"I'm not worried about Cleveland moving ahead of us," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I'm worried about winning a ballgame every night from here on out. We didn't win tonight so we have to come back tomorrow."

The Rangers took two of three from the Royals at home on May 31-June 2 and have won seven of the last 11 meetings. They went 5-2 in Kansas City last year.