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Texas Looks To Win Fourth Straight

(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers are running away with the AL West and will try to put even more distance between themselves and the rest of the division today, as they resume a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum.

Last night, Taylor Teagarden hit a two-run homer and Cliff Lee was solid in eight innings on the mound, as the Rangers took down the Athletics, 5-1, in the opener of this set.

Lee (10-5) gave up just one run on seven hits in another strong outing. The left-hander has now pitched at least eight innings over his last 10 starts, the longest run by any pitcher since Pat Hentgen's 12-game run for Toronto in 1996.

Josh Hamilton hit a solo homer for the Rangers, who have won three in a row and are now 9 1/2 games ahead of second-place Oakland in the AL West standings. Elvis Andrus scored a run and drove in a run for the victors.

"This team has one goal and that's to get to the playoffs. We want to win every game we can," Teagarden said.

Kurt Suzuki had the lone RBI for the Athletics, who had taken two of three games from Kansas City earlier in the week.

"We still got an opportunity to win the series. We just got to come back tomorrow ready to go," Suzuki said.

Dallas Braden (6-8) went six frames in the start, allowing four runs on five hits to take the loss.

Getting the call for the Athletics today will be Gio Gonzalez, who has received just two runs of support over his last two outings. On Sunday, the left-hander surrendered four earned runs over eight innings of a 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. He allowed six hits, while striking out a career-high 11 batters.

Gonzalez has made five career appearances - three starters - versus the Rangers, going 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA. He recently faced them on July 27th, when he gave up one earned run over six innings of work. Oakland, however, fell 3-1 in 10 innings.

Texas will counter with Rich Harden, as he tries to build off a solid outing. The right-hander was activated from the disabled last Saturday and he tossed seven strong innings in a 2-1 win over the Angels. He gave up just one earned run on five hits, while earning his first win since June 1st.

Harden, who began his career with the Athletics, faced his former team for the first time on May 3rd. In that game, he allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings, while fanning nine in a 4-2 triumph.

Texas has won six of its 10 matchups with the A's this season.

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