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Rangers Open Series With League Best Rays

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays take aim at their third straight win this evening when they visit the Texas Rangers in the first of three games between the division leaders at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Tampa comes into tonight's contest, owners of the best record in baseball at 36-18 with a two-game edge on the New York Yankees in the American League East. The Rangers, meanwhile, sit atop the AL West at 28-25, percentage points ahead of the Oakland Athletics.

The Rays took two of three from Toronto, winning Wednesday's finale in dramatic fashion, as Carl Crawford hit a grand slam as part of a six-run ninth inning in Tampa's 7-3 win.

Crawford finished with five RBI and Reid Brignac knocked in a run in the ninth with a double for Tampa Bay, which won the last two games of the series after dropping six of the previous eight. Dioner Navarro added a sacrifice bunt that scored the tying run in the ninth.

David Price (8-2), who became the American League's first eight-game winner, allowed two unearned runs on nine hits, struck out three and did not issue a walk over eight innings. The young lefty improved to 4-0 in five career starts against Toronto.

Tonight the Rays turn to young right-hander Wade Davis, who is 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA. Davis defeated the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, holding them to three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

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

Texas will counter with lefty C.J. Wilson, who is winless in his last four starts. Wilson was charged with the loss on Saturday in Minnesota, as he surrendered five runs and four hits in six innings to drop him to 3-3 on the year to go along with a 3.48 ERA.

Wilson has faced the Rays 13 times out of the bullpen and has pitched to a 1.35 ERA in those outings.

Texas had a two-game winning streak halted on Thursday, as it dropped a 4-3 decision to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Michael Young had two hits and an RBI for the Rangers, who finished an eight-game road trip at 3-5.

Colby Lewis (4-4) struck out seven, but was tagged with the loss after surrendering seven hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings.

The Rangers may still be without designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, who is day-to-day with an left eye injury sustained during batting practice Wednesday.

Texas won six of its nine meetings with the Rays a year ago, with five of those wins coming in Arlington.

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