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06/22/10 6:33 PM ET

Maholm tries to stop full-strength Rangers

The Rangers finally have all their weapons back. With Nelson Cruz's return from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, Texas fielded its loaded starting lineup combination of Cruz, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Julio Borbon for only the seventh time all season.

But Cruz's presence didn't factor into the Rangers' 6-3 series-opening victory over the Pirates. The right fielder went 0-for-3 with an RBI in his first game back since suffering a left hamstring injury in late May.

"I know it will take him a couple days to get himself going, but his presence, just knowing we have him there, it's just added more potency to what we already have," manager Ron Washington said.

That's not exactly promising news for the Pirates. Pittsburgh's pitching staff has allowed 353 earned runs this season, which is second-most in the Majors behind the Diamondbacks. The Rangers, meanwhile, rank fourth in the Majors in RBIs with 341, trailing only the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays.

Despite missing Cruz and Kinsler for periods of time this season, Texas' strong seven-man group has combined to tally 249 RBIs, which are 25 more than the Pirates have produced overall.

Lately, however, Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones has sparked the offense with a 12-game hitting streak -- the longest active streak in the National League. During the streak, Jones is 19-for-43 with 10 RBIs.

"Garrett started swinging the bat pretty well a couple of weeks ago," Pirates manager John Russell said. "It's happened at a pretty good time with [Jose] Tabata coming [up] and Neil [Walker] swinging the bat, Andrew [McCutchen] hitting third. It's just giving him more opportunities. He's taking advantage of it. He's swinging the bat pretty well right now."

And Pirates starter Paul Maholm wants it to stay that way. Maholm has developed into the team's strongest starter this season, notching quality starts in four of his past five outings. He'll be squaring off against Dustin Nippert, who is making his second start since leaving the bullpen.

Pirates: Duke could be headed to DL
Zach Duke may be headed to the disabled list. The southpaw, who is suffering from elbow stiffness, is scheduled to throw a side session on Wednesday after Russell decided to skip his start Tuesday.

If Duke is unable to pitch, general manager Neal Huntington hinted that Duke likely will miss his Saturday start and be placed on the DL.

"We want to make sure we take care of the muscle and let that heal properly and get [him] back strong enough not to put him in harm's way," Huntington said. "He and we do not want to relive [what happened in 2007]." Duke was limited to 19 starts in 2007 because of arm problems.

Rangers: Gentry sent back to Triple-A
To make room for Cruz on the roster, the Rangers optioned Craig Gentry to Triple-A Oklahoma City. In 33 at-bats this season for Texas, the center fielder was batting .212 with three RBIs.

Worth noting
Hamilton is on a career-high 16-game hitting streak. It's the longest hitting streak for the Rangers since Andrus' 16-game streak ended Sept. 14, 2009. ... Rangers right-handed pitching prospect Tanner Scheppers was named to the U.S. club for this year's All-Star Futures Games on Tuesday afternoon. The game will take place at Angel Stadium on Sunday, July 11. ... Pittsburgh's Lastings Milledge ranks fifth in the Majors with a .400 average with runners in scoring position.

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


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