AL West-leading Rangers close set with ChiSox

Leaders in the American League West by five games over the game set.

The Rangers have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the AL West in the last few weeks by reeling off seven wins in 10 opportunities, but in the last few days the squad has been hampered by a lack of offensive production and lost two of three. Of the team's most recent seven wins, all but one have seen the squad tally at least seven runs, but on Saturday the squad's output was slowed to just two runs in the 3-2 loss to the White Sox.

Texas did manage to scatter eight hits yesterday, with the two biggest blows coming off the bat of Ian Kinsler who belted solo home runs in both the first and third innings. Kinsler, who is batting just .246 on the season, accounted for three hits overall as he posted home runs 19 and 20 for the visitors in the setback. Mitch Moreland added a pair of hits as well.

Starting pitcher Alexi Ogando worked his way through seven innings, giving up just two runs on six hits and a walk, striking out five as he left the game tied. Reliever Koji Uehara gave up the game-winning run in the eighth and was subsequently charged with his third loss of the season.

Chicago starter John Danks permitted just the two home runs to Kinsler and seven hits in all over seven innings, but he too failed to factor into the decision. Instead it was Jesse Crain who picked up his eighth win in 11 decisions, with Sergio Santos locking up his 26th save thanks to a pair of strikeouts in the ninth.

"It was one of the rare games you feel like you get stronger as the game goes on," Danks said. "It was fun, you know? You're facing one of the best teams in all of baseball, (catcher Tyler Flowers) and I were on the same page, it was fun."

Juan Pierre, Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez all knocked in runs for the hosts as they snapped a three-game slide. Paul Konerko, who leads the team in most offensive categories, tallied a pair of hits as he raised his batting average to .316.

Unfortunately for Chicago, which is currently five games out of contention in the AL Central, not all the news was good yesterday as right fielder Carlos Quentin hurt his left shoulder and was forced to leave the game early on. Initial X-rays on Quentin's shoulder were negative, but the possibility of not having him in the lineup certainly hampers the squad considering he's second on the team in home runs (24) and RBI (77) and first with 31 doubles.

Heading to the hill for the Rangers this afternoon will be Derek Holland. The lefty, out of Wallace State Community College, came within an out of tossing his fifth complete game of 2011 on Tuesday, the fourth since the start of July, but he instead just had to settle for the 7-3 win over the Angels on the road.

Holland, an Ohio native, fanned seven for the second straight game, scattered nine hits and allowed three runs as he moved to 11-4 on the season.

As for the White Sox, they have Gavin Floyd slated to try and silence the Texas bats once more this weekend. Floyd, already 0-1 this season versus the Rangers and 1-3 in his career with a lofty 6.04 ERA against Texas, was tagged for five runs on just as many hits on Tuesday in an 8-7 win over the Cleveland Indians. While the right-hander failed to factor into the decision, he did manage to ring up nine strikeouts to offset one walk, a hit batter and a wild pitch over the course of 5 2/3 innings.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Floyd who has 111 strikeouts on the season, Chicago currently ranks third in the AL in that department with 909, just six behind both Boston and Toronto, although you wouldn't guess that given that the club is eight games below .500 (28-36) at home so far this year.

Texas has still won four its seven matchups with the White Sox this season and has won the season series in each of the last two years as well.