September 12, 2014

The Texas Rangers have allowed the most runs in the AL, but even the club with baseball's worst record has been able to shut down the fading Atlanta Braves and their struggling offense.

Atlanta's playoff chances have continued dwindling in the process, and it looks to avoid a three-game road sweep at the hands of the Rangers on Sunday.

The Braves (75-73) have been outscored 52-29 while dropping nine of their last 13, plating two runs or fewer eight times in that stretch. Even a series with lowly Texas hasn't helped them snap out of that funk, as they fell 2-1 in the opener and 3-2 on Saturday.

Justin Upton is 5 for 34 over his last 10, and he's hitless in eight at-bats with five strikeouts in this set. He also made a two-out error in the sixth inning Saturday, opening the door for the Rangers to score each of their runs.

Atlanta's offensive slump - it is hitting .194 with 94 strikeouts over its last 12 - has contributed to it falling way back of Washington in the NL East and behind Pittsburgh and Milwaukee for the second wild card.

''Nobody feels worse about (the loss) than Justin,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''He was coming in hard and it just bounced off his glove. It compounds it when we're not scoring too many runs.''

Texas (56-92) has an AL-worst 4.68 ERA, but Derek Holland held the Braves to one run over seven innings in the opener and Lisalverto Bonilla gave up two in six innings in his first major league start Saturday.

The Rangers are on the verge of their first three-game winning streak since June 11-14 after dropping 11 of their previous 12. They've gone 3-4 under interim manager Tim Bogar since Ron Washington resigned for personal reasons Sept. 5.

Texas looks to complete its first three-game sweep since beating Oakland in three straight from April 21-23 as it sends Colby Lewis to the hill in the finale.

Lewis (9-13, 5.29 ERA) gave up three runs - two earned - in seven innings of Tuesday's 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels after allowing at least four runs in his previous five outings.

The right-hander has pitched at least seven innings in three straight starts and has been durable after missing all of last season due to hip resurfacing surgery.

''The adaption period is over. (I'm) trying to keep my team in the game as long as I can,'' Lewis said. ''Individual stuff is whatever. I want the team to win.''

Lewis beat the Braves in his only career start against them in 2011, and it's unclear if he'll have to face Atlanta catcher Evan Gattis in this outing. Gattis, from nearby Dallas, has missed the last five games with strep throat.

Christian Bethancourt has started behind the plate for both games in this series in place of Gattis, and he could do so again as Mike Minor takes the mound.

Minor (6-10, 4.58) is 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA over his last five starts, but he didn't receive any run support while taking the loss in his last two. He gave up three runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-0 loss to Philadelphia on Sept. 2 before allowing two runs in six innings of Monday's 2-1 loss at Washington.

The left-hander, who is 1-1 with a 1.74 ERA in his last three road starts, has pitched at least into the seventh in six straight outings.

Minor has never faced the Rangers, who had lost six of seven at home prior to this series.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)