A pair of division leaders get together in Arlington on Sunday as the Texas Rangers host the Boston Red Sox in the finale of a three- game set.
The Sox may have the best overall record in the American League at the moment at 20-10, but the team has watched its lead in the AL East shrink to only 1 1/2 games over the New York Yankees following the 5-1 setback to Texas on Saturday.
Boston starter John Lackey allowed three runs on six hits and three walks, fanning four over five innings of action as he suffered his second defeat in three decisions. Now batting .447, David Ortiz had a double and scored the only run of the game for the visitors.
"I felt pretty good," Lackey said. "I gave up some baserunners and kind of managed the inning, kind of pitched around a couple guys. I ended up getting a ground ball with two outs. Tough luck."
As for the Rangers, now 2 1/2 games ahead of Oakland for the best record in the AL West, they were lifted by Craig Gentry, who had two hits, one of which was his first home run of the season, and plated three. Mitch Moreland pitched in with two hits while Ian Kinsler connected on his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot representing the 28th time in his career he's led off a game with a home run.
Alexi Ogando logged his third win of the season as he gave up just one run on six hits over six innings. The starter walked two and fanned four for the Rangers.
"Everybody's more relaxed when we're pitching the way we are right now," said Kinsler. "That makes it easier on everyone."
Gunning for his fourth straight victory and the sixth in seven decisions, Yu Darvish takes the ball for the Rangers on Sunday. The Japanese import, now in his second season, entered the weekend leading the majors in strikeouts with 58 and was one of only a handful of hurlers already with five victories.
Earlier this week the right-hander faced off against the Chicago White Sox and, despite allowing a season-high four runs through six innings, still came up with the victory. Darvish surrendered seven hits, one of those being his first home run of the campaign, as well as three walks, while striking out nine.
Last season Darvish clashed with Boston only once, suffering the loss as he gave up six runs on 11 hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings, although he did fan nine.
A perfect 4-0 on the season, Jon Lester is slated to take the mound for the Red Sox this afternoon against Texas. Boston won each of the left-hander's first five games of 2013, but that came to an end on Tuesday when the squad bowed to Toronto on the road in a 9-7 final.
In that six-inning appearance, Lester was roughed up for a season-high six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and a couple of walks, while fanning five for the fourth consecutive game.
For his career, the Washington native has an even 3-3 mark with a 4.57 ERA in 10 games versus the Rangers.
Texas has won the season series against the Red Sox in each of the three previous campaigns.