Rolling Rangers return home to battle Brewers

The Texas Rangers look to beat up on some more teams with losing records as they return home to face the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday in the opener of a short two-game set from the Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rangers have ripped off eight straight wins and are scheduled to play their next eight games in front of their home crowd. They just swept the lowly Houston Astros in four games and went 9-1 on a recent road trip.

Behind another brilliant performance by starter Yu Darvish, the Rangers improved to 13-1 in their last 14 games with Monday's 2-1 triumph over the Astros. Darvish struck out a career-high 15 batters and flirted with a no- hitter, allowing one run and a hit in eight inning.

Darvish lost catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the sixth inning after the veteran backstop argued about a pitch he believed was a strike.

"Pierzynski didn't like the pitch that I (called for a ball). We had words about the (2-2) pitch," home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa said. "And then (Darvish) walked (Jonathan Villar) on the very next pitch and (Pierzynski) continued to argue on the pitch before. And so he got ejected."

Joe Nathan tossed the ninth for his 35th save.

Adrian Beltre led the Rangers' offense with three hits, an RBI and a run scored, while Pierzynski added two hits and drove in a run.

Texas' recent surge has it a game ahead of Oakland for the AL West lead and the club will also host Seattle and Houston on this homestand.

Alexi Ogando will try to pitch Texas to its ninth straight win Tuesday and he is 5-3 with a 3.28 earned run average in 14 starts. Ogando earned the win last Wednesday in a 10-3 pounding at the LA Angels and allowed two runs in five innings. Ogando was 0-1 in his previous four starts.

The right-hander, who has won three of four decisions, is 2-0 in three starts in Arlington and has never faced the Brewers.

Milwaukee is on the verge of closing out a nine-game road trip and failed in its attempt to pull off a three-game sweep of the Mariners with Sunday's 2-0 loss at Safeco Field.

Mariners ace Felix Hernandez held the Brewers in check by hurling eight shutout innings with nine strikeouts and gave up four hits. Brewers first baseman Juan Francisco had the lone extra-base hit with a double and Wily Peralta suffered the hard-luck loss despite a complete-game effort, allowing two runs in eight innings.

"I think Wily was really good," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "I thought he threw the ball great. He was a pitcher today, mixing his sliders and changeups. That was really a great game for him."

The Brewers had won four of five games and are 4-3 on the road trip. They are hoping slugging third baseman Aramis Ramirez can make a healthy return off the disabled list Tuesday and he is batting .271 with five homers and 26 RBI. He has been bothered by a sprained left knee and hasn't played since July 6.

Taking the mound for Milwaukee Tuesday will be Marco Estrada, who is 0-2 in his last three appearances and did not record a decision in last Wednesday's 6-1 win at San Francisco. He fired five scoreless innings of one-hit ball, struck out six and did not issue a walk.

Estrada is 4-4 in 13 starts with a 4.96 ERA and will face Texas for the first time.

Milwaukee and Texas split a pair of matchups at Miller Park in early May and are meeting in the Lone Star State for the first time since 2007, when the Rangers won two of the three encounters.