(Sports Network) - After coming through with a much-needed victory on Wednesday, the Oakland Athletics will try to gain further ground on the American League West-leading Texas Rangers when the divisional rivals wrap up a three-game series tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Athletics lost 3-1 to Texas in a 10-inning thriller on Tuesday, but were able to avenge that defeat with a dominant performance from Trevor Cahill last night. The All-Star hurler delivered eight shutout innings and Kurt Suzuki knocked in a pair of runs as Oakland evened this key set with a 3-1 triumph.
Cahill (10-4) limited a potent Rangers offense to a mere two hits and walked three in outdueling Texas starterColby Lewis, who gave up just one run and five hits while registering eight strikeouts over his seven innings of work.
"He was outstanding," A's manager Bob Geren said of Cahill. "When you think about the environment he was pitching in, the weather, the team, it was about as good as you can do."
Lewis held his own as well until the sixth inning, when Suzuki snapped a scoreless tie by hitting his team-leading 12th homer of the year. The Oakland catcher later added an RBI single during a two-run eighth that gave his club a 3-0 advantage.
"[Lewis] left one pitch up to Suzuki, and when you make a mistake to that kid he usually doesn't miss," Rangers manager Ron Washington remarked.
Nelson Cruz, who had the game-winning homer in the 10th inning of Tuesday's opener, had one of Texas' two hits of Cahill to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. The standout outfielder is batting .403 (27-for-67) with three homers and 16 RBI during his career-best tear.
Oakland now has won 10 of its last 13 contests, but still trails the front- running Rangers by 7 1/2 games in the AL West standings. Texas had won four of five prior to Wednesday's setback.
The Rangers will attempt to bounce back behind C.J. Wilson, who's been as good as any pitcher on a Texas staff that also contains former AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee over the past few weeks. The converted closer comes in having won six of his last eight decisions and has yielded two runs or less seven times in a nine-start span dating back to June 9, producing an excellent 2.33 earned run average over that stretch.
Wilson has been especially strong since the All-Star break. After permitting just one run and three hits and racking up a career-best 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings to defeat Boston on July 18, the left-hander fired eight shutout innings to lead Texas to a 1-0 victory over rival Anaheim this past Friday in his second start of the second half.
The 29-year-old is also an impressive 7-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 12 outings at hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark for the year, and allowed one run in a seven- inning no-decision against the A's in Arlington back in May. Wilson had faced Oakland 30 times in relief prior to that start and went 1-3 with a 5.08 ERA and five saves in those games.
The Athletics counter with a pitcher who's on quite a roll of his own in Vin Mazzaro. The young right-hander enters the finale with a 4-0 record and an outstanding 2.12 ERA over his past five assignments and has lasted at least six innings in each of his six most recent starts.
Most notably, most of Mazzaro's success has come on the road, where he's compiled a 4-1 mark along with a 3.13 ERA in seven games (five starts). The second-year major-leaguer has emerged triumphant in three straight away starts, including a July 17 clash at Kansas City in which he surrendered one run in a career-best 7 2/3 innings of work.
Mazzaro followed up by holding AL Central-leading Chicago to two runs and three hits in a sharp six-inning stint on Saturday, which ran his season record to 6-2.
The 23-year-old did not fare well in a meeting with the Rangers on May 4, however, with Mazzaro reached for four runs and issuing four walks before exiting after three innings.
These divisional foes have split eight meetings thus far in 2010, with the Rangers having prevailed in three of the five matchups held in Arlington.