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Rangers Offense Looks To Solve Marlins Ace

(Sports Network) - A series win over one of the top teams in baseball has the Marlins on the verge of returning to the .500 mark. With Josh Johnson set to start tonight, Florida has a good chance of reaching that mark.

Johnson will aim to win his third straight game and continue his dominating six-start run this evening in the opener of a three-game series versus the visiting Texas Rangers at Sun Life Stadium.

The right-handed Johnson is 7-2 with a 1.91 earned run average on the season and is pitching to a 0.43 ERA over his last six starts, allowing just two earned runs over 42 innings. That includes eight scoreless innings versus the Phillies and Roy Halladay on Thursday as Johnson worked around three hits and retired the final 17 batters he faced.

The outing came just two starts after Johnson was on the losing end of Halladay's perfect game on May 29, but it was the Marlins hurler who came out on top last time.

"I just finally found my rhythm, found my tempo in about the fourth or fifth [inning]," Johnson said. "I was just pounding the zone, I was trying to throw as many strikes as I possibly could, throw my change-up in any count, slider in any count, just located my fastballs down the zone."

The 26-year-old is 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA in eight starts at home this season and has never before faced the Rangers. Johnson, though, is 5-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 career interleague starts.

Johnson will try to keep the momentum going from a series victory over the Rays this past weekend. Florida secured the victory with a 6-1 triumph on Sunday.

Jorge Cantu and Wes Helms both homered during a four-run sixth inning, while Mike Stanton drove in two runs. Chris Volstad got the win after holding Tampa Bay to just a run over six innings.

"It was good to win the series, especially against the best team in baseball. We're playing great right now," Volstad said after his club won for the third time in four games and improved to 31-32 on the season.

Cantu, meanwhile, hit his first homer since May 23 and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He is batting .313 (15-for-48) over his run with 10 RBI.

The Rangers also come in with some momentum after taking Sunday's rubber match of a three-game series versus the Brewers by a 7-2 margin. Josh Hamilton drove in three runs, two on a fourth-inning homer, and Julio Borbon added a pair of doubles and two RBI in Texas' fifth win in six games. That has them one game up on the second-place Angels in the American League West.

Hamilton is hitting .405 (15-for-37) over a 10-game hitting streak with six homers and 17 RBI.

Starter Colby Lewis held Milwaukee to a pair of runs over eight innings, striking out 10 while also going 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI and a run scored.

"It was definitely a lot of fun," Lewis said. "I didn't even know I had 10 strikeouts. I just wanted to compete and help us win. It doesn't matter if it's hitting or pitching."

C.J. Wilson will try to use his arm to give the Rangers another victory Tuesday. The left-hander has won consecutive starts since a four-game span in which he went 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA.

Wilson's last victory came versus the Mariners on Wednesday after he gave up two runs on four hits and three walks over seven innings, his longest outing since May 13.

The 29-year-old is 5-3 on the season with a 3.52 ERA and makes his first career start versus the Marlins. He has faced them twice in relief, recording two outs and allowing one hit.

The Marlins won two of three over the Rangers when the teams last met in Florida from June 10-12, 2005.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.