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Rangers Look To Win Rubber Match, Extend Lead

(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers will continue their journey to an AL West title tonight, when they close out a three-game series with second-place Oakland in Arlington.

Gio Gonzalez will get the ball for the Athletics this afternoon, and he owns an 11-8 record and a solid 3.24 ERA. The lefty was outstanding on Tuesday against Cleveland, tossing seven shutout innings on the road en route to the victory. The young hurler has allowed one or fewer runs in eight of his past 12 starts and has a 2.20 ERA during that span.

Gonzalez is 2-1 lifetime versus Texas with a 1.69 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.

Texas will counter with Colby Lewis, who has been receiving little run support in recent weeks. In fact, he is 0-5 in his last seven starts despite a 3.33 ERA during that span. Lewis is 9-10 overall this season with a solid 3.40 ERA and is coming off a no-decision against Minnesota in his last outing.

Through an even 50 career innings pitched against Oakland, Lewis is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA. He has struck out 44 Athletics.

Yesterday, Dallas Braden threw his second shutout of the season to lift the Athletics to a 5-0 win over the Rangers.

Braden (9-9) gave up just four hits and struck out one in throwing his fifth complete game of the season for the Athletics, who had dropped four of six coming in. Kurt Suzuki went 4-for-5 with two RBI, while Daric Barton scored four times and hit a two-run home run.

"I don't know that it's any type of accomplishment," Braden said on being the first pitcher to blank the Rangers in Texas this season. "It feels good to kind of stymie an offense like that. We needed to win, and that's what I came to do."

Braden went 3-2 over five starts in August and improved to 2-4 lifetime against Texas.

Rich Harden (5-5) was tagged for four runs on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings for the Rangers, who had won five of six prior to the loss. Jorge Cantu's double was the lone extra-base hit for the Rangers.

"We certainly would have liked to have seen [Harden] go out there and hold them down, but we didn't put anything on the board either," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We didn't do anything against Dallas Braden. We just got shut down."

Texas and Oakland have split their 14 meetings so far in 2010, with the Rangers taking five of the eight matchups held in Arlington.

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