After splitting a two-game set with the New York Yankees, then taking two of three from the Boston Red Sox, the Rangers' recent success against the American League East ran out this week, as they were swept in three games by the Tampa Bay Rays, falling 8-6 in Wednesday's finale at Tropicana Field.
Mitch Moreland clubbed a two-run homer and Taylor Teagarden contributed a solo shot for the AL West-leading Rangers, who have dropped five of seven and sit eight games in front of both Anaheim and Oakland in the division.
Derek Holland (2-2), who was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City prior to the game to make the start in place of Rich Harden, yielded five runs on six hits with four walks and struck out eight over 4 1/3 innings.
A series against the woeful Baltimore Orioles could be just what the Rangers need. However, it was the Orioles who handed Texas its longest losing streak of the year earlier in the season when it swept a four-game set in Arlington just before the All-Star break.
Texas is actually just 4-12 against teams from the AL East on the road with all four victories coming at Fenway Park.
Hoping to avoid another four-game slide for the Rangers tonight will be righty Colby Lewis, who has lost his last four decisions. Lewis' latest setback came on Saturday against the Red Sox, despite a solid effort that saw him surrender a run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 3-1 loss. Lewis also struck out nine, but still fell to 9-9, while lowering his earned run average to 3.28.
"It is what it is," Lewis said. "You just roll with the punches. I'm used to one-run games. Last year I was 11-9 in Japan with a [2.96] ERA. That's the way it goes. If you do what you can to keep your team in the game, you're doing your job. That's the way it is."
Lewis will be making his second start against the Orioles and is 0-1 in three appearances against them with a 6.75 ERA.
Baltimore will counter with young lefty Brian Matusz, who is 4-12 with a 5.28 ERA. Matusz absorbed the loss on Saturday against the Rays, who battered him for five runs and nine hits in just four innings.
Matusz has faced the Rangers three times and is 1-1, despite a 10.95 ERA.
The Orioles enter tonight's opener on the heels of dropping two of three to the Seattle Mariners, culminating with a 6-5 loss in Wednesday's rubber match.
Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer and Luke Scott added a two-run single for the Orioles, who have dropped five of seven. Jeremy Guthrie (7-12) was charged with six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits over eight innings.
"It came down to a couple of pitches," Guthrie said. "It's unfortunate on a night like this that I couldn't pitch better."
Still and all, the Orioles are 10-6 in 16 games under new manager Buck Showalter, the team's best stretch of baseball since 2008.
Baltimore has won six of its last eight meetings with the Rangers.