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Rangers, Hunter Look To Bounce Back Against Rays

(Sports Network) - Matt Garza shoots for a career-high 12th win of the season this evening when the Tampa Bay Rays continue their three-game series with the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field.

Tampa won for the fifth time in its last seven games with a thrilling victory on Monday, as Carlos Pena drove in the go-ahead run as part of a four-run eighth inning, lifting the Rays to a 6-4 win.

Willy Aybar drove in two runs while Ben Zobrist went 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Rays, who have won three straight. David Price went six-plus innings and was charged with two runs on five hits with five walks and eight strikeouts. Lance Cormier (4-3) got the win for getting the final out in the eighth inning.

With the win and a loss by the Yankees to Detroit on Monday, Tampa Bay is now tied with New York for the top spot in the division with identical 72-46 records.

"It's an interesting win and a big win," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "When you beat the best pitcher in baseball in the eighth inning when he's up, that shows good things about your team. Hopefully we will gain some momentum from this."

Bengie Molina went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored and Elvis Andrus added two hits and an RBI for the Rangers, who have dropped five of their last eight. Cliff Lee (10-6) was tagged with the loss as he gave up six runs on nine hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings.

"We just didn't support Lee tonight," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "There were too many outs that were supposed to be outs that didn't happen. That's the game right there."

Despite the loss in the opener of a three-game set, the Rangers still hold a healthy eight-game lead over the Angels for first in the AL West.

Now Garza takes the hill for the Rays this evening trying to snap a personal two-start losing streak. Garza, who is winless in his three starts since throwing his no-hitter, absorbed the loss in Detroit on Wednesday, allowing three runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings to fall to 11-7 on the year to go along with a 3.92 ERA.

Garza beat the Rangers back on June 6 and is 4-3 lifetime against them with a 4.53 ERA in eight games.

Texas, meanwhile, will counter with righty Tommy Hunter, who is 9-1 with a 3.38 ERA. Hunter did not get a decision on Friday in Boston, but lasted just three innings, surrendering four runs and six hits in his team's 10-9 win.

Hunter's first win of the season came against the Rays back on June 5 and he is a perfect 2-0 in three starts against them with a 2.33 ERA.

Texas took two of three from the Rays earlier in the year.

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