Slumping Rangers try to turn things around vs. Astros

The Texas Rangers try to get themselves back into the postseason mix on Monday when they begin a three-game set with the woeful Houston Astros at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Texas' September swoon continued this weekend in Kansas City, as it dropped two of three to the Royals, including Sunday's 4-0 setback that ended with a Justin Maxwell grand slam in the 10th inning.

The Rangers' 15th loss in 20 games dropped them 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the second AL wild-card spot.

"They are all painful losses now," Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Their guy and (Alexi) Ogando pitched amazingly, but whether we lose by one or lose by four, every loss is going to be painful from here on out."

Getting the call for Texas on Wednesday is lefty Derek Holland, who has lost his last three decisions and is winless in his last eight starts. Holland, though, pitched well on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, but did not get a decision, as he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss.

"Every start is big now; we've got to win from here on out," Holland said of the unmistakable mathematics at the end of the season. "Every game you win makes it that much easier."

Holland, who is 1-1 in five starts versus the Astros with a 4.80 ERA, is 0-5 with a 4.53 ERA in nine starts at Rangers Ballpark since May 31.

Houston, meanwhile, is just playing out the string and comes into Monday's opener having lost nine in a row after a weekend sweep at the hands of the Indians.

Things may not get better for the Astros on Monday, as they have lost 14 of 16 games to the Rangers.

"I think it's very important," Houston manager Bo Porter said of closing out the season. "You're going to look at your body of work, but finishing positive would be good for all these guys the last time through the rotation."

Houston is also two defeats away from matching the single-season franchise record, set last year.

The Astros will turn to righty Jordan Lyles, who has lost two of his last three decisions. Lyles was rocked by Cincinnati last Tuesday to the tune of nine runs (7 earned) in just 3 1/3 innings, as he fell to 7-8 to go along with a 5.26 ERA.

Lyles' struggles may continue, as he is 0-4 in five starts versus the Rangers with an 8.54 ERA.