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LAA@TEX: Tepesch holds Angels to two runs

There is at least one thing the Rangers have prided themselves on since 2007, and that's their possession of the Silver Boot. The trophy is awarded to the winner of the season series between the Rangers and the Astros, known as the Lone Star State Series.

Houston has won eight out of 12 against Texas this season -- and with seven games to play, this weekend would be a good time to make a move.

Texas must win the four-game set that starts on Thursday at Minute Maid Park, otherwise extending its winning streak to eight years will be impossible.

Tasked with helping the Rangers to a series-opening win is 25-year-old Nick Tepesch, who has struggled on the road this season (2-4, 4.97 ERA in nine starts). The advantage he has, however, is that he's been effective in Houston, where the Astros have only scored two runs off him in 11 1/3 innings.

In addition, he's held the Astros to a .210/.269/.323 slash line in three career starts against them.

"I feel like from one outing to the next, since I have been in the big leagues, this is probably the best streak I've had," said Tepesch, who is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in his last four starts. "I just need to keep commanding my fastball and commanding my pitches and stay on the attack."

Astros right-hander Collin McHugh could benefit from fastball command himself, as it seemed to elude him on Saturday. He battled through 5 1/3 innings against the Indians, allowing two runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out just two.

"The fastball command wasn't great today, and they had eight lefties in the lineup, so I knew I'd be cutter-heavy going into it," McHugh said after the outing. "Ideally, you'd like to have a better mix of pitches, and I didn't really have my curveball. You battle with what you got, and that's what I had to do."

McHugh still has a 1.76 ERA in his last five starts, which puts him in a good place to help the Astros continue their success against their intra-state rivals. And since McHugh has held righties to a .193 average all season -- and the Rangers don't have many left-handed hitters for him to worry about -- Thursday presents an opportunity for him to string together the first three-game winning streak of his career.

It won't be easy, especially since he will have to face a team coming off a 12-run, 11-hit rout of the Mariners. The Rangers had scored 19 runs and hit .239 in seven games before that game.

Astros: Carter ties August franchise record
Chris Carter launched his 13th homer of August on Wednesday night, besting the previous franchise record shared by Jeff Bagwell (2000) and Ty Wigginton (2008).

Carter is five RBIs short of passing Bagwell's record of 54, also set in 2000. He leads the Majors with 20 homers since July 1.

"He's been able to sustain this for a long period of time," manager Bo Porter said. "I think success brings more success and more confidence, and the more success he continues to have, the more confidence he's going to have as he continues to move forward."

Rangers: Holland ready for final rehab start
Derek Holland is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday in the sixth and final start of his 30-day rehab assignment. If all goes well, he will be activated by Sept. 1 and will rejoin the Rangers' rotation.

Holland has been sidelined since undergoing offseason surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. He is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in his first five rehab starts.

He threw 87 pitches in his most recent start, against Tacoma on Aug 19, allowing four runs -- two earned -- on seven hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.

This start was pushed back a couple of days because of some back spasms over the weekend that weren't serious, and he is expected to throw 90 to 100 pitches.

Worth noting
• Two contenders for the batting title go head-to-head this weekend -- Adrian Beltre (.326) and Jose Altuve (.332). Beltre is hitting .385 against the Astros this season but has never faced McHugh. He has a career .325 average at Minute Maid Park.

Altuve has a .307 career average against the Rangers, including a .348 clip against Texas this season. He is 3-for-9 off Tepesch. Comments