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07/01/10 12:26 AM ET

Garcia, Lewis surprises for White Sox, Rangers

Two of the American League's more effective starters in the first half of the 2010 season are surprise stories, and they'll be facing each other when the White Sox visit the Rangers in the first game of a three-game series on Friday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.

But for Texas, the new man behind the plate will be getting a lot of the attention.

The White Sox will start Freddy Garcia, who was a hard-throwing former perennial Cy Young Award candidate in his career with the Mariners, but has evolved after years of arm problems into a softer-tossing, crafty out-maker.

The Rangers will counter with a veteran righty of their own, Colby Lewis, who also had arm troubles, learned how to pitch in Japan, and has come back strong after signing a two-year offseason deal with his original Major League team.

But Lewis should be throwing to veteran catcher Bengie Molina, who is scheduled to make his first start in a Rangers uniform after coming over in a trade from the San Francisco Giants.

"He's brings presence," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Molina, a former Gold Glove backstop who won a World Series ring with the Angels in 2002. "He's certainly been in a lot of big situations in his career behind that plate, especially during that run Anaheim had ... and he had a good run in San Francisco where he helped them fight for the pennant. We're just very happy to have him.

"He brings great catching ability. He brings a workman-like attitude. And he can swing the bat. I think our general manager did a great job."

Meanwhile, Garcia continued to do a great job for the White Sox in his last start, limiting the Cubs to two runs on eight hits in the South Siders' 11th consecutive win. Garcia leads the White Sox in wins with nine, two more than Jake Peavy's seven, and is getting the job done with his head instead of his heat.

"Back then, I got good stuff," Garcia said recently about the early days of his career. "I was throwing really hard, everything. We had a really good team in Seattle, so those were the reasons for a lot of those wins.

"Now, I throw every pitch, so I think it's all about location if you don't throw hard. You have to locate your fastball, slider, whatever you have, put the ball down and don't make many mistakes."

Lewis was given two extra days of rest by Washington after seeing a personal three-game win streak snapped in his last start. Lewis allowed a season-high nine hits in that effort, but his ERA is still at an excellent 3.28, and, as Washington assured any doubters, Lewis is healthy, but the team is just taking precaution with the right-hander already at 98 2/3 innings for the season.

"There's nothing wrong with him health-wise or physically," Washington said. "None of that has anything do with it. We're just trying to monitor our pitchers."

White Sox: A historic run
Chicago's 15-1 record from June 9-26 was its best 16-game stretch in one season since also winning 15 of 16 from June 14-27, 1961. ... White Sox starters are 13-4 with a 2.49 ERA (40 earned runs in 144 2/3 innings) and 19 quality starts in the last 21 games. During that span, the rotation has worked at last seven innings 13 times and allowed two runs or less 13 times.

Rangers: Hamilton's streak ends
Josh Hamilton's 2010 Major League-high hitting streak was snapped at 23 games after an 0-for-3 night in Anaheim on Thursday. He can start up a new one at home Friday, and he's still batting .340 for the season. ... Rookie reliever Alexi Ogando pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning in Thursday's game and has now pitched nine innings of scoreless ball over his first six games in the Majors. He has eight strikeouts in that span.

Worth noting
White Sox infielder Omar Vizquel tripled Wednesday night to tie Goose Goslin for 52nd all-time with 2,735 hits. White Sox outfielder Andruw Jones needs two home runs for 400 in his career. ... Rangers outfielder David Murphy has reached base three times on catcher's interference this season, the most since last year, when Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick also notched three.

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