Cahill set to battle defending AL champ Texas

April 29, 2011, 2:13 pm
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April 29, 2011

TEXAS (15-10) vs.
A's (12-13)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on CSN Plus

OAKLAND (AP) -- The Texas Rangers' pitching staff has struggled to help the team win consistently since a red-hot start. C.J. Wilson, though, hasn't had a problem earning victories lately and throwing to Mike Napoli seems to be helping.

The left-hander will try to win his third straight start with Napoli behind the plate, but he might have to outduel the Oakland Athletics' Trevor Cahill during Friday night's opener of a seven-game road trip.

The Rangers (15-10) had a 2.22 ERA while winning nine of their first 10 games this season, but have a 5.25 ERA while dropping nine of 15. Their pitchers had a solid performance for most of Thursday's series finale with visiting Toronto before giving up three runs in the ninth inning of a 5-2 defeat.

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While his teammates have experienced their ups and downs, Wilson (3-0, 3.51 ERA) has done enough to win his last two outings. He hasn't allowed more than four runs in any game this season and has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his last four.

Wilson has struck out 19 in his past two starts and received help from the Rangers hitters, who have provided 14 runs of support. He gave up a pair of solo homers over his first six innings Sunday against Kansas City before allowing two to score in his final frame during an 8-7 win.

Wilson escaped that seventh inning without any further damage thanks to his season-high 10th strikeout.

Napoli caught that final strike and Rangers pitchers are 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA during his six starts behind the plate this season.

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"He calls a good game and works well with the pitchers," manager Ron Washington told the team's website.

Facing the A's (12-13) could help Wilson as he was 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts against them in 2010. Oakland has also been shut out three times in its last seven games and scored a combined five runs during a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels to open this week.

Cliff Pennington helped his team earn its only win in that three-game set, 2-1 on Wednesday. He scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning after his fly ball went off an outfielder's glove for a leadoff triple.

REWIND: A's narrowly avoid sweep against Angels

"We got a break to win the game," manager Bob Geren told the team's website. "I thought really it was our game the whole way."

Even with Napoli as his catcher, Wilson might have to pitch better than Cahill (3-0, 2.30), who is also trying to win a third straight start. The right-hander has allowed one run in four of his five outings this season and in each of his consecutive wins.

Cahill gave up a season-high seven hits Saturday in Seattle but retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced in a 9-1 win.

He is 6-2 with a 2.56 ERA in nine career starts against Texas but was tagged for seven runs over four innings during a 16-9 home loss Sept. 26, the day after the Rangers clinched their first AL West title in 11 years.

Cahill could get some help if Josh Willingham returns from tightness in his back, which has caused him to miss the past two games. The A's also got some good news with outfielder Coco Crisp (left quad tightness) not expected to go on the disabled list.

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