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Indians-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Steady production at the plate has put the Cleveland Indians on the brink of their first winning record in two months.

Continuing their recent dominance of the Texas Rangers will get them there.

The surging Indians look for their seventh victory in the last eight meetings with the Rangers as they continue a four-game series at Globe Life Park.

Cleveland (31-31) has put together a 7-1 stretch spurred by a .293 batting average and 5.6 runs per game after batting .220 while scoring seven runs during a four-game slide.

The Indians can now go over .500 for the first time since they were 5-4 on April 9.

They kept their recent surge going as eight of their nine starters had at least one of the team's 12 hits in Saturday's 8-3 win over Texas (31-31).

"One through nine, we know we have a solid offense," said right fielder David Murphy, who is batting .371 in the last 10 games. "We can put a bunch of runs on the board."

That's been evident over the past seven meetings with the Rangers, who have allowed Cleveland to hit .304 with 10 homers in those contests.

Murphy, a member of the Rangers from 2007-13, got into the act against his former team Saturday by getting three hits with a double and an RBI.

Carlos Santana is a .350 career hitter at Texas, and he launched a two-run homer among his three hits through the first two of this wraparound series. He had missed the previous nine games with concussion-like symptoms.

Justin Masterson (3-4, 4.72) had a career-high 14 wins and was an All-Star for the first time last year, but he's 0-3 with a 5.73 ERA in six road starts in 2014. The right-hander has also lost on both his visits to Arlington, surrendering 13 runs and 17 hits with six walks and four homers in 10 1-3 innings.

Masterson, though, enters this matchup coming off one of his best performances of the season in a 3-2 home win over Boston. He allowed three hits while striking out a season-high 10 batters in seven scoreless innings, throwing 25 straight strikes during one sequence. Masterson had an 8.84 ERA while going 0-3 over his previous four starts.

"Sometimes, there's not an explanation," manager Terry Francona told the team's website of Masterson's recent improvement. "Sometimes confidence plays a part in it."

Masterson is 1-4 with a 5.64 ERA in five career starts against the Rangers.

Texas has dropped five of eight thanks in large part to the pitching staff's 5.91 ERA.

Joe Saunders (0-1, 3.68), however, can't be blamed for that since he's allowed two runs while scattering 15 hits in 11 innings over two starts since returning from an ankle injury that landed him on the disabled list April 7.

Despite his success since coming back, Saunders hasn't gotten a decision since he's been backed by one total run. That came Tuesday, when he allowed two runs in six innings of an 8-3 defeat to Baltimore.

"I still think there's plenty of room for improvement," Saunders told the team's official website. "I think there's some things to iron out here and there. But, it's coming along."

He is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA over his last four starts against Cleveland. Saunders was hit hard in the latest one July 24, giving up six runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 10-1 defeat while with Seattle.

Yan Gomes is 5 for 8 versus Saunders and 8 for 16 in his past four meetings with the Rangers after connecting for a three-run homer Saturday.

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