Rangers, Royals aim to keep pace in series finale

7:02 AM, Sep 22, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - All was calm in Arlington for at least one night.

Alexi Ogando will try to prevent panic from returning to Texas again on Sunday afternoon when the Rangers conclude a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals in a meeting of playoff hopefuls.

The Rangers lost for the 14th time in 18 games when they dropped Friday's opener, falling a half-game behind the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot. However, they avoided falling further back with last night's 3-1 win, as the Tribe remained ahead with their victory over Houston.

Kansas City is 3 1/2 games behind Cleveland.

Tampa Bay, which holds the first wild card spot, also won on Saturday and the Rangers remained a game back of the Rays.

Matt Garza, who has mirrored Texas' struggles, hurled eight-plus innings to get his first win since Aug. 19. He took a shutout into the ninth before giving up a leadoff homer to Eric Hosmer.

"He was really good. He was really pounding the strike zone," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said of Garza.

Garza fanned five and gave up five hits. He was 0-3 with an 8.22 earned run average in three prior starts this month.

"You're the one who has to wake up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror. I wasn't happy with what I saw. I just got back to being comfortable, back to being who was I was," Garza said.

Joe Nathan relieved Garza and struck out two to notch his 40th save. Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios both drove in a run and scored once.

Jeremy Guthrie (14-12) allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings for Kansas City, which ends its regular season by visiting Seattle and then Chicago to battle the White Sox.

The Rangers will host Houston and the Los Angeles Angels to conclude their regular season.

Ogando is set to make his second start for Texas today since coming off the disabled list earlier this month.

Ogando made four bullpen appearances after his return before getting the start on Tuesday versus Tampa Bay. He gave up one run on two hits and a walk over five innings to pick up the win in his first start since Aug. 13. The righty was pulled after 69 pitches.

Ogando, 29, is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in eight career meetings with the Royals, three of those starts.

James Shields takes aim at his 100th career victory today when he goes for the Royals.

The right-hander has won six of his last seven decisions and picked up his second straight winning start on Monday versus Cleveland. Shields struck out a season-high 10 batters over six innings of one-run ball, scattering six hits and a pair of walks.

Shields moved to 12-9 with a 3.33 ERA in 32 starts this season. The 31-year- old is 7-3 lifetime versus the Rangers with a 2.66 ERA in 12 meetings.

The Rangers took two of three from the Royals at home on May 31-June 2 and have won eight of the last 12 meetings. They went 5-2 in Kansas City last year.

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