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Darvish tries to help Rangers salvage finale with Houston

(SportsNetwork.com) - It's been a headache of a season for the Texas Rangers.

So it's sort of appropriate that the Rangers are in a wait-and-see mode when it comes to their ace pitcher -- Yu Darvish -- who's scheduled to start on Wednesday night when they finish off a three-game home series with the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park.

Houston, incidentally, can both sweep the series and pull out of last place in the American League's West Division, passing the Rangers, with a victory in the finale.

As for Darvish, it's his first appearance in a game since he was struck in the head during a batting practice throwing session prior to Tuesday's 8-3 loss. The team physician checked him out immediately afterward, however, and indicate that "everything appears to be OK."

He'll be looked at again prior to Wednesday's start.

Darvish has been nearly untouchable in his last three meetings with the Astros, winning a lone decision while compiling a 1.27 earned run average and striking out 33 batters. Nine of those 33 came in an April 11 start, in which he allowed just one hit in eight scoreless innings of a game the Rangers ultimately won in 12 innings, 1-0.

Prior to this series, Texas had won 24 of 27 against Houston.

The Rangers have been swept by the Astros just once in a three-game series in June 2003.

"It's just nice to beat them this year," Houston's Chris Carter said.

The Astros have been last in the AL West for all but 21 days since arriving in the division at the start of last season. They last escaped the cellar on April 6 this season, when they were 3-3.

Houston's Dallas Keuchel has a chance to join Darvish on the All-Star team if he wins a fan internet vote for the final spot. He's stumbled lately, though, going 0-2 in his last three starts with a 6.50 ERA.

He was dinged for five runs and 13 hits over five innings in a game Houston lost, 7-6, on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"I haven't been too good as of late, so I guess I have to go back to the drawing board and figure some stuff out," Keuchel said.

He was an 8-0 winner against Texas on May 13.

On Tuesday, Carter homered twice to lead the Astros to a victory in the series' middle game.

Jose Altuve, Jon Singleton, Matt Dominguez and Marwin Gonzalez each drove in a run and George Springer also homered for the Astros.

Houston starter Brad Peacock (3-5) surrendered two runs on six hits with five strikeouts across 5 2/3 innings to earn the win.

Leonys Martin drove in two runs with a homer and triple for Texas.

Phil Irwin (0-1) lost his season debut after giving up three runs on six hits and two walks in four-plus innings.

Houston has won five of its eight matchups with the Rangers this season.