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Lewis gives Rangers seven strong innings

The Rangers will look for Colby Lewis to continue his record of strong performances against the Rays as they attempt to bounce back in the second game of this weekend's series on Saturday.

The Rays will counter with right-hander Jeff Niemann (1-2, 4.11 ERA) as they try to keep it going after breaking loose for 16 hits in an 8-4 victory on Friday.

Lewis, who is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in four starts this season, is 3-0 with a 4.15 ERA against the Rays in regular-season games, and 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in the playoffs.

"It's a good matchup," Lewis said. "It's the same situation with the Yankees coming in here. They're a good club. They have a good record. It's a good matchup."

Niemann has not pitched well against the Rangers. He is 0-2 with a 10.66 ERA in three career appearances.

David Murphy (.667 batting average), Michael Young (.444), Mike Napoli (.417), Adrian Beltre (.316) and Co. have made life hard for Niemann.

"That's definitely a quality lineup, one through nine," Niemann said.

His problem with Rangers hitters is something he thinks about, Niemann acknowledged.

"A little bit," Niemann said. "I think it's more the anxiety before the game starts. Once the game starts, you forget about everything. You're focused on pitch one, pitch two, etc. It's just getting out there and throwing quality pitches and letting things happen, not trying to do too much."

Rays Manager Joe Maddon wants Niemann to stick to basics against the Rangers.

"With Jeff, it's like any other team he pitches against. I think that if he establishes his fastball down in the strike zone with the good angle and throws his breaking ball for strikes, which he's capable of, I just think what he needs to do is what he normally does," Maddon said. "I think maybe sometimes we try to get too creative because we're playing against a certain group of hitters or team. I would always much prefer that our pitchers pitch their game first and not try to adjust to their hitters."

Rays: Gimenez getting the job done
Catcher Chris Gimenez has started six of the 12 games the Rays have played since he was recalled from Triple-A Durham and had two hits in four at-bats Friday to lift his average to .350.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brandon Allen is the first player to hit a walk-off pinch-hit homer in his first official at-bat with a team since Cleveland's Jamie Quirk on Sept. 27, 1984. Allen's walk-off homer against the Angels was the Rays' 10th in the past 39 home games.

Rangers: Record is still baseball's best
Friday's loss dropped the Rangers' best-in-baseball record to 15-5. That is the second-best mark through the first 20 games of a season in their history, behind the 16-4 record of the 1989 team.

Worth noting
• Rangers rookie reliever Robbie Ross, who recorded his American League-leading fourth win in just his sixth Major League appearance on Wednesday against the Yankees, is tied with Cardinals' Lance Lynn for most wins in the Majors.

Dating back to 1918, he is the only pitcher with four relief wins over his first six career appearances. Comments