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HOU@TEX: Lewis shuts out Astros through seven innings

The road hasn't been kind of late to the Orioles, who have won only five of their last 19 games away from Camden Yards.

But instead of spending the week prior to the All-Star break at home in Baltimore, the O's close out the season's first half with battles against two of the American League's top teams in the Rangers and Red Sox.

Fresh off a sweep-avoiding win against Atlanta, Baltimore begins a three-game series against Texas at Rangers Ballpark.

"It's been a frustrating time for our guys," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "A lot of things usually happen this time of year when you got the break coming. Through my experience, it seems like every year it can be a real snowball at this time of year if you don't stay on top of things."

Along with their road struggles, the Orioles also are in the midst of a 19-game stretch in which they are 6-13. It should come as no surprise that one of the chief reasons for Baltimore's woes has been its starting rotation. In their last 19 games, Orioles starters have completed seven innings only once -- Jeremy Guthrie on Friday -- and have a 5.57 ERA. The starters' performance during Baltimore's last nine games -- in which the club is 3-6 -- is even more dismal, with a 9.00 mark in that span, with Guthrie the only starter who has completed as many as six innings.

Trying to break that streak on Monday is right-hander Chris Jakubauskas, who is making his sixth start of the season. Although Jakubauskas isn't the best candidate to go deep into games -- he's pitched into the sixth inning just once -- the right-hander has been serviceable as a starter, with the Orioles winning three of his starts.

Taking the mound for the Rangers is right-hander Colby Lewis, who is seeking his fourth straight quality start. In his last three outings, Lewis is 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA and a .184 batting average against. He also has worked into the seventh inning in each game, striking out 24 batters in 20 1/3 innings during that span.

"It's kind of tough when you've got a guy like that going out there," Astros left fielder Carlos Lee said after facing Lewis on Wednesday. "You're always finding yourself behind in the count, and instead of being aggressive, now you're protecting."

Orioles: Jones on Final Vote ballot
Outfielder Adam Jones was one of five AL players named to the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint on Sunday, joining Kansas City's Alex Gordon, Chicago's Paul Konerko, Detroit's Victor Martinez and Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist. Jones, an All-Star in 2009, is hitting .283 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.

• Interleague Play wasn't kind to the Orioles as a whole -- going 7-11 -- but their pitchers sure loved it at the plate, finishing with a .429 (9-for-21) batting average.

• Outfielder Nick Markakis went 5-for-5 on Sunday, and now has recorded a hit in 21 of his last 22 games. He is batting .436 in that span.

Rangers: Napoli set to return
• The Rangers will activate Mike Napoli from the disabled list before Monday's game against the Orioles. He's been sidelined since June 12 with a strained muscle in his left ribcage, but is ready to go after hitting a three-run walk-off homer for the Triple-A Round Rock Express on Sunday night.

Of great value to the Rangers, Napoli has a 2.76 catcher ERA in 20 starts, and two other appearances at catcher this season. It's the lowest catcher's ERA in the Majors for all catchers with at least 20 starts.

"I think he has done a great job," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's got a feel for our pitchers and a great feel for hitters. The way he calls a game, he has been doing well ... very well."

• Brandon Webb will undergo an MRI on his right shoulder Tuesday. Webb, who has been on the disabled list since Spring Training, was scratched from a rehab assignment Friday when his shoulder tightened up.

"This is certainly a setback, and an unfortunate one," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "We'll know the extent of it on Tuesday."

Worth noting
• Lewis faced the Orioles on April 9, taking the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits in six innings in Baltimore.

• Baltimore's Mark Reynolds is hitting .338 with four doubles, nine homers and 17 RBIs in his last 23 games. He also has 19 walks in that span.

• The last time the Orioles visited Texas, on July 8-11 of last year, they swept the Rangers in a four-game series.

• Since the beginning of June, Josh Hamilton is hitting .287 with nine homers and 27 RBIs. Comments