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Must C Close: Darvish loses perfecto bid

Yu Darvish is facing the Houston Astros again. We all know how that went the last time it happened.

On April 2, the Rangers pitcher retired the first 26 batters he faced. All that stood between Darvish and a perfect game was Marwin Gonzalez, who spanked the first pitch he saw up the middle -- through the righty's legs and into the outfield -- for the first Houston hit of the ballgame. Darvish got the win and the shutout, but not his name in the history books.

He'll get another chance on Saturday, when his Rangers face the Astros in the second game of a three-game series. Left-hander Erik Bedard will start for Houston.

"All I want for him to do is get us through innings and the offense supply him some runs," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I don't care if they get 15 hits, as long as they don't get 15 runs. I'm not looking for a no-hitter or a three-hitter. Just get us into the seventh or eighth inning and keep us in striking distance."

That shouldn't be too much to ask for from Darvish, who's 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA. A similar feat might be more challenging for Bedard. The southpaw, who was banished to the bullpen but recently pitched himself out of it, owns an 0-2 record and 7.36 ERA. As a reliever, though, Bedard had allowed just three hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings.

"Bedard went down to the bullpen and did a tremendous job the last time out, and he's going into the rotation," Astros manger Bo Porter said. "It's a fluid situation we will continue to monitor, and this competition will continue to go on.

"It wasn't a competition that was going to end in Spring Training. I made that perfectly clear to the guys then. Obviously, moves like this kind of reiterate that to them, and we're going to try to go with the hot hand and go with the guys that give us the best opportunity to win ballgames."

Among active pitchers who have thrown at least 75 innings against the Rangers, Bedard owns the sixth-lowest ERA (3.36). He has also held them to a .224 batting average, good enough for second lowest of that group.

Rangers: Cruz looking to bash Bedard
• There's at least one player in the Rangers' lineup who's enjoyed past success against Bedard. Nelson Cruz is batting .353 (6-for-17) with two home runs off the lefty.

Cruz's .765 slugging percentage against Bedard is third highest among players who have faced him at least 15 times. Cruz is one of 11 players with two home runs off Bedard. Nobody has three.

Cruz hit his eighth home run of the year in Friday's win.

Astros: Gonzalez, Altuve coming off contact
• Gonzalez went 2-for-4 on Friday. He's hitting .264 this season.

• Jose Altuve leads Houston in hitting. After going 1-for-4 in the series opener, his average sits at .342.

• The Astros lead baseball in strikeouts. They've been wrung up 360 times this season.

Worth noting
• When the two teams met to start the season, the Rangers took two out of three from Houston. Comments