Rangers aim to regroup against Rays

C.J. Wilson takes aim at his 15th win of the year this game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Wilson won a career-high 15-games last season in his first year as a full-time starter and has been even better this season, going 14-6 with a 3.28 earned run average. He won for the fourth time in five starts on Thursday against the Rays, as he held them to two runs and two hits in six innings.

He also hurt his finger in the contest when he attempted to barehand a chopper back up the middle in the fifth. X-Rays after the game were negative, but Wilson admitted it had bothered him.

"It's kind of hard to throw with a numb finger," he said. "It's kind of like trying to drive with only one eye. You don't have that depth perception; you can't get that feel for the ball."

Wilson is 3-0 lifetime against Tampa with a 2.90 ERA in 16 games, just three of which have been starts.

The left-hander will be trying to help the Rangers bounce back from a loss in Monday's opener, as James Shields threw his 11th complete game of the season to help Tampa Bay to a 5-1 win.

Shields (14-10) struck out six and walked two while giving up four hits and a run to win his third straight start and second in a row against the Rangers.

Last Wednesday in Texas, he went eight innings in a 4-1 win. He's the first American League pitcher to have at least 11 complete games since Scott Erickson for Baltimore in 1998 while Randy Johnson was the last major league hurler to record 11 complete games when he did so with Arizona in 1999.

"I used my cutter a little more tonight cause I wanted to change my approach," said Shields. "I had to give them a different look since I pitched against them recently. I just mixed things up and was able to get some success with it."

Also, Shields' first strikeout of the game gave him 200 on the season. He became the first American League pitcher since Johnson in 1993 to record at least 10 complete games and 200 strikeouts in one season. CC Sabathia was the last pitcher to accomplish the feat and he did it in 2008 between Cleveland and Milwaukee.

Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton each hit a solo home run while Casey Kotchman added a two-run single for the Rays, who have won three in a row and pulled within seven games of wild card-leading Boston.

Scott Feldman (1-1) was touched for four runs on four hits over five innings to pick up the loss for the Rangers, who had taken two of three against the Red Sox over the weekend.

"He struggled out there and they delivered when they had the opportunity," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "He gave us what he got out there."

Texas' lead in the AL West has fallen to 2 1/2 games over the Angels, who beat Seattle later on Monday.

Getting the ball for the Rays tonight will be righty Jeff Niemann, who is 9-6 with a 3.69 ERA. Niemann found himself on the wrong end of the decision against Wilson and the Rangers on Thursday, as he was hit for five runs and six hits in five innings.

"[I] got into a lot of bad counts, didn't execute my pitches when I had to. They took advantage of it," Niemann said.

He is 0-1 in two games (one start) against the Rangers with a 9.00 ERA.

Texas is 4-3 against the Rays this season.