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Holland Back With Texas As Rangers Look To Avoid Sweep

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays go after their fifth straight win this afternoon when they try to complete a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field.

After rallying for a 6-4 win in Monday's opener, the Rays cruised on Tuesday, as Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria each had three hits and drove in three runs to back a strong start by Matt Garza in Tampa's 10-1 rout.

Crawford finished a double shy of the cycle, slamming a two-run homer, while Longoria had a double and a triple. The Rays totaled 15 hits, seven for extra bases.

Crawford, 29, also recorded the 100th triple of his career, making him the youngest player to reach that total since Stan Musial (28 years, 8 months) in 1949.

It was plenty of support for Garza (12-7), who struck out a season-high 10 over seven shutout innings. The right-hander allowed five hits and walked two for the Rays, who have won six of eight and remained tied with the Yankees atop the AL East. New York beat Detroit on Tuesday.

"I had great stuff tonight," Garza said. "I was locating my fastball well. My slider came right off of that. Curveball was coming back. Got a couple big swings and misses and a couple watching. So that was good. Changeup. Everything was there tonight. So I really can't complain."

Tommy Hunter (9-2) gave up four runs in three-plus innings and took the loss for the AL West-leading Rangers, who have lost six of nine.

"I need to locate a fastball down and away, start things off," Hunter said. "Probably going to be a key to success. That's what [pitching coach Mike Maddux] preaches, and I wasn't able to do that again tonight."

Heading to the hill for the Rays today will be righty James Shields, who has lost his last two starts after winning three straight. Shields was roughed up by the woeful Baltimore Orioles on Friday, as he allowed four runs and 10 hits in five innings, dropping him to 10-11 on the season, while raising his earned run average to 4.98.

Shields lost to the Rangers back on June 5 and is 2-2 lifetime against them with a 4.63 ERA in five starts.

Texas, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Derek Holland, who is filling in for the injured Rich Harden. Holland has made five appearances for the Rangers this season and is 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA. However, the 23-year-old hasn't pitched on the big league level since getting tagged with the loss to Minnesota back on May 19.

Holland is 2-0 in two starts against the Rays with a 5.73 ERA in those outings.

Texas took two of three from the Rays earlier in the year, but has lost 12 of its last 15 at the Trop.

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