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Wilson fans six for 12th victory

A year ago, Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson were competing for a playoff spot as teammates. Wilson anchored the Rangers' pitching staff throughout the season. Holland baffled the Cardinals in Game 5 of the World Series.

On Wednesday, Wilson and Holland will again be playing meaningful September baseball. As the games dwindle and the race for the playoffs heats up, the left-handers find themselves within arms reach of a chance at returning to the World Series.

This time, however, they will meet as opponents for the first time. Holland and Wilson are billed to throw against each other at Angel Stadium in the second game of a three-game set between Holland's Rangers and Wilson's Angels.

Holland has settled into a groove in September, striking out 24 batters and boasting a 2.05 ERA while holding hitters to a .205 average in three starts. He threw seven innings against Cleveland on Thursday, allowing two runs, but received a no-decision in a 5-4 loss.

Still, the strong performance was encouraging. Holland said he feels like he's gotten stronger now that lingering injury issues in his left elbow seem to be in the rear-view mirror, and although he's lost twice to the Angels this season -- both times against Tuesday winner Jered Weaver -- pitching against his old teammate doesn't seem to faze him in the slightest.

"He's on the other team," Holland said. "I want to beat them. I shouldn't have to worry about C.J."

The Rangers are once again the pace-setters, winning eight of their past 10 and 11 of their past 14 and boasting the best record in the American League at 87-60. The Angels defeated the Rangers, 11-3, in Tuesday's series opener, but had the AL West leaders pulled off a victory, they would have tied with the 1999 Rangers for the best start (88-59) through 147 games in a season.

The situation isn't quite as cozy for the Angels. With 14 games to go, Los Angeles sits 3 1/2 games behind AL Wild Card-leading Oakland and three back of the Orioles and Yankees -- both also tied atop the AL East -- for the second AL Wild Card spot. The Angels had a chance to move up a game, but the O's snuck out a 4-2 victory over the Mariners in 18 innings.

"We're at a point in the season right now where it's getting to be where you might need some help. It's definitely become a factor now, when you're getting down to the last dozen or so games," Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "There's not going to be a lot of room for error, but we have a team that can get on that run and reach our goal."

That makes this start all the more important for Wilson, who has also pitched well since the start of the month. While he sputtered on Thursday in a 9-7 win in Kansas City when he allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings, he still holds a 2-0 record with a 2.55 ERA since the beginning of September after posting a 7.99 ERA over six starts in August.

Holland said it best -- "It's a good time to get things going."

Angels: The Pujolses have baby girl
Albert Pujols is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday after the Angels first baseman stayed in Kansas City to be with his wife and new baby daughter, who was born early Sunday morning.

Pujols missed Tuesday's win to be with his wife, Deidre, and the baby, Esther Grace, the couple's fifth child and third daughter. Esther Grace was born at 3:30 a.m. CT in Kansas City -- where Deidre's parents live -- and it just so happened the Angels were playing a series at Kauffman Stadium. After some rest, Pujols still played in Sunday's series finale, serving as the designated hitter before staying back with the family while the team returned to Los Angeles.

"There's no doubt Albert is where he needs to be," Scioscia said.

Rangers: Young nominated for Clemente Award
Michael Young has been named the Rangers' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which honors philanthropic work, sportsmanship and community involvement. This is the fourth consecutive time Young has been nominated for the honor. Young has a longstanding partnership with Wipe Out Kids' Cancer, which aims to eliminate cancer through cutting edge research.

Young will be honored during a pregame ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Rangers Ballpark. Fans can vote for their favorite Clemente Award recipient at MLB.com and automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip to the 2012 World Series.

Worth noting
• Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, who entered the series hitting .411 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in his last 18 games, went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored on Tuesday.

• The Angels are 8-6 against the Rangers this season. Los Angeles has outscored Texas, 44-18, in their past five meetings.

• Young owns a seven-game hit streak, and he entered the series hitting .346 over his last 14 games. "You're seeing Michael Young grinding like he always does," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Now he's catching breaks. Some of the balls he's connecting on are catching holes, and some he's not hitting good are finding holes. He's a quality hitter. At some point, things have to turn in his favor."

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