(Sports Network) - Cliff Lee sure is one tough act to follow.
Colby Lewis will have to do just that tonight as he aims to pitch the Texas Rangers to a fourth straight victory over the Oakland Athletics in the middle contest of a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark.
In his fourth start with the Rangers since being acquired from Seattle by way of a trade, Lee hurled nine innings and gave up just one unearned run while striking out a career-high 13 batters last night, but did not get a decision in a 3-1 extra-inning victory over the Athletics.
It marked the third time with Texas that Lee has gone at least nine innings and seventh time in his last 10 starts overall.
"I don't go into a game trying to strike out a bunch of hitters, but when I am locating my fastball well and mixing in some off-speed pitches, I'm going to get a bunch of strikeouts," said Lee.
Lee's outstanding outing was nearly wasted, but Nelson Cruz belted a walk-off two-run homer in the 10th inning to give Texas a 4-1 mark so far on a seven- game homestand and its seventh win in its last nine games overall.
"I hit it pretty well," said Cruz. "It was one of those hits when you make good contact -- I was just looking for a pitch to drive and I got one."
The American League West-leading Rangers own an 8 1/2-game lead over the Athletics and Angels in the division and have won three straight and four of seven versus Oakland this season.
Lewis will try to extend that series win streak this evening, though the right-hander had a two-start winning run end Wednesday versus Detroit. Lewis allowed four runs on nine hits over seven innings, falling to 9-6 with a 3.52 earned run average on the season and 2-2 with a 4.97 ERA over his last five starts.
The 30-year-old is 5-1 with a 3.40 ERA in eight home starts in 2010 and 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA in eight games, six of those starts, lifetime versus the A's. He has faced them twice this year, going 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA.
Trevor Cahill counters for Oakland and is 9-4 with a 3.15 ERA on the season. The 22-year-old was drilled for five runs over 6 2/3 innings of a no-decision versus Kansas City on July 17 and is coming off Friday's loss to the Chicago White Sox. Cahill was better in that game, yielding three runs -- two earned -- on four hits and two walks in seven innings of work.
The righty is 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six lifetime starts against Texas, including 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in two this season.
Cahill will hope for better support tonight after Kurt Suzuki drove in Oakland's lone run on Tuesday. The Athletics came into the game having won nine of their last 11 and scored 28 runs in their previous five contests.