(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers will face off with the in-state Houston Astros on Saturday as they look to keep pace for the top spot in the American League West standings.
Texas erupted for 10 runs in the first five innings and then held on late in the game to earn a 10-5 win over Houston on Friday. The win was the second straight for the Rangers, who remain a half-game back behind the first-place Oakland Athletics in the AL West.
Nelson Cruz did much of the heavy lifting for the Rangers on Friday as he went 1-for-4 with a grand slam, his 21st home run of the season. David Murphy went 2-for-4 with a home run and Adrian Beltre finished 2-for-3 while adding his 17th home run of the season.
Nick Tepesch allowed four runs in five innings but did strike out nine batters to get the win for Texas. J.D. Martinez was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Lucas Harrell had a rough night against the Texas lineup as he allowed nine runs, seven of which were earned, while walking six in just 3 2/3 innings. Jason Castro was 3-for-4 with an RBI and J.D. Martinez also had a pair of hits for the Astros. Houston has lost seven of its last eight games.
Getting the start for Houston in Saturday's matchup will be the 25-year-old Dallas Keuchel.
Keuchel will need to put his last start out of his head on Saturday. In his last appearance, Keuchel allowed five runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings of work as the Astros were thumped, 12-0, by Tampa Bay on Monday.
With the loss, Keuchel fell to 4-5 on the season while his ERA jumped to 4.65, the highest it has been since early June.
The left-hander will be making his third-ever start against Texas on Saturday with the second coming earlier this season. In that outing on May 10, Keuchel pitched a solid six innings, allowing just two runs, but did not factor in the decision.
With his sights set on a second-straight win, and just his second since the beginning of June, Yu Darvish will take the ball for the Rangers on Saturday.
Darvish has been without a doubt one of the best pitchers in the American League this season. The Japanese import boasts an ERA of 2.78 to go along with a league-leading 151 strikeouts this season. Darvish has a record of 8-3.
The right-hander was finally able to get back in the win column in his last start as he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings to take down the Cincinnati Reds last Sunday. Darvish also had eight strikeouts in the contest, marking the 11th time this season he has had at least that many in a game.
Darvish has really owned the Astros this season and in his career. He has won all three of his career starts while posting a sparkling 1.90 ERA. That includes his first start of the 2013 campaign when he took a perfect game into the ninth inning before having it broken up with two outs in the frame.
Texas has won six of seven meetings with Houston this season.