Rangers hope to get boost from Beltre vs. Rays

The Texas Rangers expect to have Adrian Beltre back in the game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Beltre has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 23 with a strained left hamstring, but should start at third base this evening for a slumping Rangers team that has lost seven of their last 11 games. He was hitting .276 with a 20 home runs and 76 RBI at the time of the injury.

"I'm going to monitor his playing at third base," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I would say this last month he'll probably get more DH time than he got all year. I don't know how many games that's going to be, but you'll probably see him at DH a little bit more."

The Rangers could have used their All-Star infielder on Wednesday, as James Shields tossed eight scoreless innings to help Tampa Bay to a 4-1 win.

Shields (13-10) allowed just four hits and one walk while fanning seven, notching his 1,000th career strikeout in the positive decision.

Johnny Damon homered, while John Jaso, Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce were credited with an RBI each for the Rays, who snapped a two-game skid and won their fourth game in six tries.

David Murphy posted an RBI single in the ninth for the Rangers, who remained 3 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Angels in the AL West.

Alexi Ogando (12-7) didn't make it out of the third inning and was charged with the loss, allowing three runs on five hits in 2 2/3 frames.

Hoping for a better effort tonight, the Rangers will hand the ball to lefty C.J. Wilson, who had a three-start winning streak stopped thanks to an awful effort on Saturday against Anaheim. He absorbed the loss in that one, as he allowed six runs and 10 hits - four home runs - in five innings.

"No matter how good or bad your last start is, it's important to put it behind you," said Wilson, who is 13-6 with a 3.29 ERA. "There's always something to do every day. There's always work to be done, so I can't worry about it."

Wilson is 2-0 in 15 games (two starts) against the Rays with a 2.88 ERA.

Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jeff Niemann, who is 9-5 with a 3.46 ERA. Niemann won for the eighth time in his last nine decisions on Saturday in Toronto, as he surrendered three runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

This will be his first-ever start against the Rangers.

The Rangers won two of three when they visited the Rays from May 30-June 1.