James Paxton can lead the Seattle Mariners to their longest win streak this season by continuing the sparkling start to his career, which included a superb outing against Texas less than two weeks ago.
The Mariners will also try to bolster their playoff hopes while recording their first four-game sweep of the lowly Rangers in 12 years Sunday.
Paxton (5-1, 1.91 ERA) improved to 8-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 career starts after a 6-5 victory in Oakland on Tuesday. He pitched seven scoreless innings before getting charged with two runs after he left with two outs in the eighth.
His ERA through his first 12 starts is the second-lowest in major league history behind Steve Rogers' 1.16 for Montreal in 1973. Rogers had a 1.15 ERA in his first 13 starts and finished with a 1.54 mark over 17 outings that season.
"He's our glue," manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB's official website. "He's good. This young man has greatness written all over him. He's just got to stay healthy."
Paxton will next try to send the Mariners (78-63) to their first six-game win streak since an eight-game run July 12-23, 2013. Seattle is also seeking to match its season-best six consecutive road wins from June 20-July 2.
After enduring a rain delay of over 3 hours, the Mariners earned a 4-2 win against Texas (53-89) on Saturday. Kendrys Morales hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth, and Kyle Seager went 3 for 5 with a tying two-run homer in the sixth.
Seager is hitting .378 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in his last 48 games against the Rangers.
"It's kind of all about learning," said Seager, batting .280 with career highs of 23 homers and 88 RBIs. "You learn about yourself. I know what I did wrong at the end of last season. If you do something wrong, you can go back and know how to fix it."
The win pushed Seattle 1 1/2 games ahead of Detroit for the AL's second wild-card spot. The Mariners look to maintain that lead while sweeping a four-game series against Texas for the first time since April 12-15, 2002, in Arlington.
Paxton now seeks another dominant effort against the Rangers, who will try to avoid their longest skid in 11 years Sunday. The left-hander yielded four singles and three walks in 6 2-3 innings in a 5-0 victory Aug. 26.
This time, he'll face a Texas team on the verge of its first nine-game losing streak since May 30-June 8, 2003, the last season in which the Rangers endured 90-plus defeats.
Derek Holland will try to play a part in snapping that skid while building on a successful return from left knee surgery. The left-hander gave up one run in seven innings while striking out six in his season debut Tuesday, a 2-1 loss in Kansas City.
"He commanded the baseball as well as I've seen him," pitching coach Mike Maddux told MLB's official website. "I'm glad to have him back."
Holland (0-0, 1.29) is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last five starts against Seattle, the most recent on Aug. 27, 2013.