(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers seem to be cruising to their first American League West title since 1999 and C.J. Wilson is a big reason why. Tonight, the reliever turned starter goes for a 13th win when the Rangers resume a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Wilson won his second straight start and his fifth consecutive decision on Friday in Baltimore, as he came within an out of his first career shutout, holding the Orioles to three hits to improve to 12-5. He also struck out a career-high 12 batters in the win.
"[Wilson] just found the spot in that strike zone and he stayed there," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "He and the umpire were on the same page all night. He threw some good changeups, spotted his fastball, threw a few breaking balls. But for the most part, he stayed off the middle of the plate and made them work for their at-bats."
Wilson's 12 wins and 3.02 earned run average are both tops among Texas starters who have thrown to a 4.15 ERA this season, the lowest mark for the group since 1992.
However, the Twins have given Wilson some trouble, as he is 0-2 with a 3.41 ERA in 18 games (one start) against them. He lasted six innings in his lone start with Minnesota back on May 28, and was charged with the loss for allowing five runs and four hits.
Texas made it three straight wins on Tuesday, as Michael Young overcame two errors by hitting the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning, lifting the Rangers to a 4-3 win. Josh Hamilton belted his 29th homer of the year for Texas, which has won four of five.
"The last two games we've showed the caliber team we are," Hamilton said. "I go back to three things, we can do all three...we can pitch, we can hit and we can play defense. If we consistently do that on a night to night basis, it's going to be hard to beat us."
One night after a near combined-no hitter, the Rangers used four pitchers to edge the AL Central-leading Twins. Colby Lewis allowed seven hits and three runs over 6 1/3 frames. Darren Oliver (1-1) threw 1 1/3 innings and escaped a jam in the top of the seventh to get the victory. Darren O'Day recorded the final out in the eighth inning and Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth for his 32nd save.
Michael Cuddyer stroked a two-run double in the first inning for Minnesota, which has lost back-to-back games for the first time since August 2-3 at Tampa Bay. The Twins are now 3 1/2 games ahead of the White Sox, who beat Baltimore on Tuesday.
Carl Pavano (15-9) threw his sixth complete game of the season and 13th of his career after allowing eight hits and fanning five batters.
Minnesota will turn tonight to their hottest starter in lefty Brian Duensing, who owns a 5-0 mark with a 2.18 ERA in seven outings (six starts) since the All-Star break. Duensing won his third straight start on Friday against the LA Angels of Anaheim, as he allowed run and seven hits in eight innings to push his record on the year to 7-1 to go along with a 1.92 ERA.
Duensing is 1-1 in four games (one start) against the Rangers with a 1.74 ERA.
Minnesota swept the Rangers in a three-game set at Target Field earlier in the year and has won seven of the last 11 matchups in the series.