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05/05/10 3:33 AM ET

AL West leaders face off in rubber game

Colby Lewis had a career day when he was last on the mound. The Rangers will be content with a solid one this time around against Oakland.

The A's expect the same from Trevor Cahill.

It's early in the season, but the stakes are already high, and the top spot in the AL West is on the line. The Rangers lead the A's by a half-game heading into the finale of a three-game series Wednesday.

Lewis, who is from Bakersfield, Calif., should feel at home. There's no doubt that he is feeling comfortable on the mound. The right-hander threw nine scoreless innings against the Mariners in his last start on Friday. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out 10 in a game the Rangers won in 12 innings.

"He was using everything: fastball, cutter, slider, and he was doing it to some pretty good hitters," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He was just great."

Lewis retired the last 21 batters that he faced, and the nine-inning appearance marked the longest outing of his Major League career. He has struck out 10 batters in three of his first five starts, and his 38 strikeouts were the second most by a Rangers pitcher in the month of April.

Here's how good Lewis has been: He has a 2.33 ERA in three starts on the road and opponents are hitting .195 off him, including .209 by left-handed hitters and .176 by right-handed hitters. Furthermore, opponents are just 3-for-26 off him with runners in scoring position.

As for Cahill, he is looking to bounce back after being roughed up for six earned runs on seven hits in five innings during his season debut against the Blue Jays. He gave up three home runs in the 10-2 loss.

"I threw my slider more than I usually do," Cahill said, "and two of the homers came off my slider. I kind of got away from my game plan. You get called back up, and your first time out there, you want to make a good impression. It just didn't go my way."

He's already had an eventful year. Cahill began the season on the disabled list with a left scapula stress reaction and was activated on April 20, only to be immediately optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, where he made two starts and went 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA. He earned the starting nod in Toronto when Brett Anderson was sent to the disabled list.

Cahill could be ready for a rebound. He is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in four starts against the Rangers, his lowest ERA against any American League team.

Rangers: Resting Kinsler
The Rangers will likely give Ian Kinsler the day off Wednesday, his first day off since coming off the disabled list on Friday. He went 0-for-4 on Tuesday and is hitting .300 for the season. Andres Blanco, who has played in 16 games this year, will likely get the start.

Athletics: Around the horn
Anderson, on the disabled list with a medial forearm strain and elbow irritation, will begin playing catch this weekend, manager Bob Geren said. ... A's right-hander Justin Duchscherer's scheduled cortisone procedure was postponed a day. "They'll attempt to do it tomorrow," Geren said. ... Mark Ellis will be activated from the disabled list but is headed for Minor League rehab assignment. There is no timetable for his return.

Worth moting
Max Ramirez is expected to be behind the plate on Wednesday but it could be his last start -- for now. On Friday, it will have been 10 days since the Rangers optioned catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Minor Leagues, and he is eligible to be recalled to the Major Leagues.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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