MLB

Rangers-Astros Preview

Kyle Blanks is giving the Texas Rangers some pop at the plate, and impressive pitching has them on the verge of their first series sweep of the season.

Giving the ball to Colby Lewis against the Houston Astros is usually an ideal option.

The Rangers are looking for Lewis to re-establish his dominance of the Astros in the finale of this three-game Lone Star Series on Wednesday night.

Blanks is 9 for 23 (.391) with three homers and five RBIs in six games since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to replace the injured Mitch Moreland.

He's collected four hits in this series, connecting for a solo homer among his three in Tuesday's 7-1 win at Houston (18-9).

The Rangers' arms are also helping, as Wandy Rodriguez combined with Shawn Tolleson on a three-hitter Tuesday. That came after Ross Detwiler and two relievers held the Astros to four hits in a 2-1 win.

"We knew that we weren't going to go all year without putting back-to-back wins together," first-year manager Jeff Banister said. "You'd like to have it happen earlier, but we'll take it anytime we can get it."

Texas' last series sweep came in three home meetings with Houston in September.

Lewis (1-2, 3.00 ERA) is 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA over his last six starts against the Astros, winning all three of his starts in Houston behind a 1.33 ERA.

The right-hander, though, wasn't that effective at home against the intrastate rival April 12, giving up four runs and two homers in 7 1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss in 14. That outing opened a four-game stretch during which Lewis has gone 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA, with each contests ending in a loss for Texas (10-16).

Lewis was on his way to a victory Friday, yielding two hits with eight strikeouts in six innings as Texas built a 5-0 lead. However, his relievers were hammered during a seven-run eighth in a 7-5 loss to Oakland.

"It was a rare game for them," Lewis told MLB's official website.

The Astros own the best record in the AL, but they're trying to avoid their longest slide of the season after winning 10 in a row.

Jose Altuve batted .455 with 11 RBIs and 10 runs during that streak, but he's gone 1 for 7 in this series and grounded out with the bases loaded Tuesday.

Despite his performance so far through this series, the All-Star second baseman is a .356 career hitter at home against the Rangers. He's also 5 for 14 (.357) versus Lewis.

Samuel Deduno (0-0, 2.70) is getting a second chance to prove he deserves a regular spot in the rotation after Asher Wojciechowski was demoted to Triple-A Fresno last week.

Deduno, who made his first five appearances of the season out of the bullpen, yielded one run and three hits with four strikeouts in four innings of a 4-3 win over Seattle on Friday.

"This is like a new opportunity," Deduno said. "This is a good team, a winning team, and I have to be good, too, to stay in the starting rotation."

Deduno is 0-1 with an 8.04 ERA in three career starts versus Texas, but he tossed a scoreless 14th to get his first career save April 12.

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