Diamondbacks take on Rangers in doubleheader

Posted: Updated:
By Natalie Rivers By Natalie Rivers

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Texas Rangers have ace Yu Darvish lined up to pitch the second game of a doubleheader, and they'll look to continue their hot hitting on the road as they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in that twinbill Monday.

Darvish will be looking to tie for the major league lead with his eighth win when he opposes Trevor Cahill in the evening. The Diamondbacks were supposed to start another high-profile pitcher in Ian Kennedy in one game of the doubleheader, but a freak accident will leave the first contest in the hands of a pair of spot starters.

The AL-best Rangers (32-18) have won eight of 10 on the road, though they had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 4-3, 13-inning loss at Seattle on Sunday.

Before that defeat, Texas had scored 55 runs in its previous nine contests away from home. The Rangers have hit 20 homers in their last 10 road games.

Darvish (7-2, 2.84 ERA) leads the major leagues with 8.24 runs of support per game, but he didn't get any help in his last start Tuesday. The right-hander gave up one run in six innings but lost 1-0 to Oakland, snapping his six-game winning streak.

"I've been really pampered with all the run support I've been getting," said Darvish, who leads the majors with 91 strikeouts in 66 2-3 innings.

The Rangers need Darvish and first-game starter Martin Perez to give them some length with relievers Neal Cotts, Joe Nathan and Tanner Scheppers likely unavailable following Sunday's extra-inning contest.

Nathan had converted 36 straight save opportunities on the road dating to 2011 before blowing a one-run lead in the 11th inning against the Mariners.

"Hopefully (Martin) Perez and (Yu) Darvish can give us nine innings in each game and everything works out good," manager Ron Washington said.

Arizona, tied with San Francisco for the NL West lead, seeks its fifth win in six home games after beating San Diego 6-5 on Sunday.

Cahill (3-5, 2.81) has given Texas a tough time throughout his career, going 9-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 15 starts. He's tied with Kansas City's James Shields for the lowest ERA against the Rangers among active pitchers with at least 10 starts.

The right-hander has also allowed four or fewer earned runs in 28 straight starts, the longest active streak in baseball.

Cahill kept that run going Wednesday, but he wasn't at his best as he gave up four runs over six innings of a 4-1 loss to Colorado. He had gone 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in his previous five outings.

Texas' Adrian Beltre is 9 for 26 with two homers versus Cahill, while Nelson Cruz is 4 for 23 against him.

Former 21-game winner Kennedy was scheduled to start one of the games Monday, but he was scratched after cutting his right index finger while doing the dishes. Tyler Skaggs will instead make his season debut in the opener.

After a slow start at Triple-A Reno this season, the left-hander has posted a 2.66 ERA and 22 strikeouts over his last 20 1/3 innings. He went 1-3 with a 5.83 ERA in six starts for Arizona as a rookie last year.

"He's throwing the ball better," manager Kirk Gibson told the team's official website. "I can't tell you exactly what the deciding factor was for picking him, but we made the decision as an organization."

Perez also makes his season debut after going 1-4 with a 5.88 ERA in six starts in 2012. The left-hander pitched seven shutout innings in his last outing with Triple-A Round Rock, but he's posted a 6.05 ERA in four minor league starts this season.

The Rangers have won 17 of 25 overall meetings with the Diamondbacks.