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TEX@LAA: Darvish fans nine over eight stellar frames

After missing a chance to clinch a playoff berth on Friday, the Rangers were rained out on Saturday, but have a chance to clinch the American League West on Sunday.

Heavy rainfall forced Saturday's game between the Rangers and Angels to be postponed until Sunday, when a doubleheader is scheduled to take place. The Rangers' magic number currently stands at three, meaning that if they beat the Angels twice on Sunday and the A's fall to the Mariners in the afternoon, Texas will clinch its third straight division title. The Rangers' magic number to clinch a playoff berth is one.

Regular starters normally get a game off during a doubleheader, but Rangers manager Ron Washington has no such plans.

"Not on September 30," he said.

The Rangers hold a 2 1/2-game lead in the AL West over the A's, who beat the Mariners, 7-4, on Saturday. The Angels, who have won six of their last seven games, trail the A's by 2 1/2 games in the AL Wild Card race. The Rangers and Angels have five games left; the A's, four.

Zack Grienke and Yu Darvish -- who were originally slated to start in Sunday's series finale -- will start the first game of the doubleheader, which will begin at 12:05 p.m. CT. Geovany Soto will start behind the plate for the Rangers in the afternoon game while Mike Napoli will catch Derek Holland in the evening contest. Ervin Santana starts for the Angels.

Darvish, who was scratched from his last start on Tuesday with a stiff neck, will be pitching on nine days' rest in what will be his last start of the regular season. He has picked up victories in four of his last five starts, allowing only one run on four hits over eight innings, striking out nine and walking one during his last start, a 3-1 triumph over the Angels on Sept. 20.

Grienke gave up one run on seven hits over five innings against the Mariners on Wednesday, needing 110 pitches to do so as he picked up the win in a 5-4 victory. But he pitched at least seven innings in 10 of his previous 12 starts. Greinke is 6-2 with a 3.40 ERA since being traded to the Angels in July.

"We'll see if Zack can get us some length in Game 1 and then we have a chance to have more pitchers that aren't going to have to throw in two games," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, explaining why Greinke is pitching before Santana. "I think it just gives us a better chance with Zack in Game 1 to pitch deep into [the game] and get to a certain point, and then we'll see where we are in Game 2."

Holland and Santana, who were previously prepared to take the mound on Saturday, will now start the 6:05 p.m. game, marking the first split doubleheader the Rangers have ever played at home.

Holland has not lost in 10 starts since the beginning of August, going 4-0 with a 3.77 ERA over that stretch. He lasted only three innings in his last start, giving up three runs on four hits in a 5-4 win over the A's on Monday.

Santana has lasted at least six innings in each of his last nine starts, going 4-2 with 2.88 ERA over that span. He pitched less than six innings in eight of his previous 11 starts, a stretch that saw him go 3-4 with a 7.83 ERA.

The Angels bullpen has thrown 15 1/3 innings in the last four games.

"There's no doubt about how much our bullpen has thrown, how much our guys have played and have been grinding it out," Scioscia said. "Obviously, we need to come out here and play two good games, and hopefully come out with wins. That's the bottom line. We're stretching some guys that have been used a lot."

Angels: Rib soreness could keep Morales out of lineup
Kendrys Morales was not in the Angels' lineup on Saturday before their game against the Rangers was rained out. A sore rib cage that has bothered him over the last couple of days, along with the fact that left-hander Holland was set to start, would have kept him from starting. Morales, who struck out three times in Friday's series opener, could see some playing time during Sunday's doubleheader.

"From the time I got here it was bothering me a little more than usual," Morales said on Friday.

"Hopefully, he'll be all right for tomorrow," Scioscia said on Saturday. "We really need him from the left side. That's where it was affecting him a little more last night."

Rangers: Perez set to start on Monday
If he is not used out of the bullpen during Sunday's doubleheader, rookie left-hander Martin Perez will start Monday's series opener against the A's. Perez has lost both of his starts since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Sept. 1 and gave up five runs on six hits in two-thirds of an inning of a 9-3 loss to the A's on Wednesday in his last start.

"If we don't use him out of the bullpen this weekend, then he's the guy on Monday," Washington said. "But we've got to get through these two games and everybody is on deck."

Worth noting
• Tickets for Saturday evening's game between the Rangers and Angels will be good for the second game of Sunday's doubleheader.

• Adrian Beltre, 33, hit his 36th home run of the season on Friday while Josh Hamilton, 31, holds the team lead with 43 homers. This makes the Rangers the seventh team in Major League history with two players at least 31 years old to hit 36 home runs in the same season.

• Rangers right-hander Koji Uehara tossed a perfect ninth inning on Friday night and has not allowed a baserunner in a team-record eight consecutive appearances. He's struck out 12 over 6 2/3 innings during that stretch. Comments