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RHP Yu Darvish takes the mound on extended five days' rest after earning his first victory in eight starts Sunday against Cincinnati by giving up no runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings. In his first start this season against the Astros, Darvish took a perfect game into the ninth inning before Marwin Gonzalez's two-out single spoiled the bid. Darvish's 151 strikeouts lead the major leagues and are the most before the All-Star break since Kerry Wood's 156 in 2003. He ranks third the AL in ERA (2.78) and ninth in innings pitched (113 1/3).
RHP Nick Tepesch recorded a career-high nine strikeouts, eclipsing the eight he registered on May 12 at Houston, in winning his first game in nine starts. Tepesch, who has had trouble in the third go-round in lineups, found difficulty there again. All four runs he allowed came in the sixth inning, when he pitched to six hitters without recording an out. "He was hitting his spots and staying down in the zone," said Astros slugger Chris Carter. "He has a hard slider and his fastball was cutting, so it was hard to distinguish between the two of them."
OF Nelson Cruz swatted his second grand slam of the season and sixth of his career in the regular season, becoming the fifth Ranger to have at least six in a career. He joined Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez, who had seven, and Dean Palmer and Rusty Greer (6). Cruz, who has hit safely in 12 straight games against the Astros, increased his season totals to 21 homers and 65 RBIs, which lead all AL outfielders.
OF/DH Manny Ramirez, who signed a minor-league contract with the Rangers this week, will make his first start for Triple-A Round Rock Sunday, a team spokesman said. The 41-year-old Ramirez will be in the lineup as the designated hitter. He had been playing for Taiwan's EDA Rhinos in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, where he batted .352 with eight home runs and had 43 RBIs.
OF David Murphy is enjoying a mild resurgence, hitting safely in 10 of his past 14 games to raise his average above .222. His home run Friday was his second in three games. "Since the Oakland series (June 17-20) I've felt pretty good up there, regardless of the results. All I can control is have good at-bats."
3B Adrian Beltre hit his third homer in two days after going without a long ball for almost a month. He was 2-for-3 with two walks and is hitting .417 with three doubles, three homers and seven RBIs in his last nine games. "I'm finding holes and getting lucky. I'm swinging at better pitches, too."
RHP Joakim Soria was back in Arlington after two rehabilitation starts at Double-A Frisco. He was awaiting word on whether the team would activate him or prescribe another rehab assignment. "I've been feeling really good," said Soria, who registered 160 saves in five seasons with the Royals, including a career high of 43 in 2010. "I'm just waiting on the next move."
SS Elvis Andrus is 2-for-6 with an RBI and stolen base in two games since being moved down order in a move designed to help him break out of a prolonged slump. Andrus, a fixture at the top of the Texas order, mostly as the No. 2 hitter, went 1-for-4 on Friday with a run scored.