Athletics-Rangers Preview

Sonny Gray allowed more earned runs in his last start than he had over his previous five, but even that wasn't enough to boost his ERA above 2.00.

Considering how he's pitched against Texas this season, it seems unlikely that mark is coming Thursday when Oakland and the Rangers complete a three-game series with the visiting Athletics seeking a season-high fifth straight win.

After Wednesday's 8-2 victory, the lineup has led the A's (33-41) to wins in eight of 10 with seven runs per game and a .308 average. They've also gone 19-11 since entering play on May 23 with an MLB-worst 14-30 record - the AL's second-best mark in that time behind Toronto.

Billy Burns is batting .375 on a career-best 14-game hitting streak, Stephen Vogt is 14 for 29 with 13 RBIs in eight games and Josh Phegley homered for the second straight game and fourth time in seven.

"It's just fun to watch those guys hit," starter Kendall Graveman said.

The A's have won four in a row against the Rangers (37-35) and haven't lost a series in Texas in over two years, going 14-4 since with 5.9 runs per game.

Texas is in danger of a season-high fifth straight loss, and the lineup is producing 2.3 runs per game with a .201 average in the last six.

Gray (8-3, 1.95 ERA), the AL's ERA leader, surrendered six runs in six innings of Friday's 12-7 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels but wasn't stuck with the decision.

"I've got to be a little better and attack the zone, and make them beat us instead of just kind of giving it away to them," said Gray, who's gone 20 2-3 innings without allowing an earned run on the road.

The A's probably don't have many doubts about him being able to do that, particularly against Texas. The right-hander had allowed four earned runs over his previous five outings, and his ERA hasn't been above 2.00 since April 17.

He's 6-3 with a 1.68 ERA in nine career starts versus the Rangers, with the last three coming this season while allowing two runs in 20 2-3 innings. At Globe Life Park, he's won all four of his starts with a 0.29 ERA, including both of his career shutouts.

Ryan Rua (4 for 9) and Shin-soo Choo (5 for 16) have had success against the A's top starter, but those 25 at-bats amount to little compared to the sub-.200 averages of Robinson Chirinos (1 for 16), Adrian Beltre (2 for 22), Mitch Moreland (1 for 11), Rougned Odor (2 for 17), Prince Fielder (2 for 14), Leonys Martin (4 for 27) and Elvis Andrus (5 for 27).

Colby Lewis has arrived at a similar season record often through different means with a 7.13 run-support average, though he was certainly deserving of his latest victory. The right-hander allowed a run and nine hits in eight innings of Friday's 2-1 victory at the Chicago White Sox.

Lewis (7-3, 4.08) was rocked for nine earned runs over 2 2-3 innings in Cleveland on May 27, but he's 3-0 with nine runs allowed over 29 in his last four starts.

"The ball was coming out of his hand very well and he was pretty much in total control of what he wanted to do," manager Jeff Banister told MLB's official website.

Lewis has allowed two earned runs in 19 innings of his last three starts against the A's, and he's 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA in his last 13. Vogt and Marcus Semien are a combined 0 for 18.

His success at Globe Life doesn't quite rival Gray's, but Lewis is 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA in eight home starts dating to September.

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