Looking to stay alive in the postseason hunt, Tampa Bay will start Jeremy Hellickson against Texas lefty Derek Holland on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
In search of his first win since Aug. 20, Hellickson allowed two runs -- courtesy of two homers -- against the Blue Jays on Friday but received just one run of support in the Rays' 2-1 loss.
The defeat was Hellickson's 10th of the season, matching his total from last year.
Texas, meanwhile, has won five consecutive games started by Holland, who held the Indians to just two runs over seven innings on Sunday, striking out six.
"I feel like I'm becoming more consistent," Holland said after the start. "I had to get into a groove, and I feel like I'm getting into that groove now."
The lefty is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA in his past three outings, including a win over the Rays on Aug. 27, when Tampa Bay scored five runs off Holland but Texas managed six runs of support for the lefty. It was Holland's second start against the Rays this season. He allowed five runs over seven innings in Tampa Bay's 5-2 win on April 29.
This series will mark the third meeting between both clubs this season, but the first in St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay took two of three in April before Texas took two of three in late August.
"We've seen them just a week ago. They were in their September surge then, too," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Pretty good team, they can pitch. They certainly over the year have learned to play very well in their ballpark. I think the three games over the weekend are going to be pretty exciting games."
Rays: Niemann may return before long
Right-hander Jeff Niemann, who left Saturday's start after just 3 1/3 innings because of a mild right rotator cuff strain, may not be lost for the season, after all.
Niemann met with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday and was told he may be able to resume throwing "in a couple of weeks."
"He was checked out, and the doc said it wasn't that bad," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He felt like he could be throwing soon."
Saturday's start was Niemann's first since May 14, when a comebacker fractured his right fibula.
Rangers: Napoli runs bases
Catcher Mike Napoli was back on the basepaths Thursday for the first time since going on the disabled list Aug. 11 with a left quad strain.
Napoli went from home to first a few times, then ran from first to third. However, the Rangers catcher said he felt something grab in his leg as he made his final trip between first and third, and decided to stop.
"I was moving around a lot better than I have been. I guess we'll talk to [Washington] and see what we want to do. I'm not fully there yet," Napoli said. "Today was the most I've done, and the most positive thing that I've done [since going to the DL]."
Injured reliever Robbie Ross has been cleared to begin throwing -- possibly on Friday -- as he recovers from a left forearm strain. The left-hander went on the disabled list last Saturday. Prior to the injury, Ross was 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA in 52 relief appearances.
The Rangers are 5-13 at Tropicana Field during the regular season since the beginning of 2007. But they are 4-1 there in the playoffs.
Josh Hamilton is hitting .172 with one home run and nine RBIs in 15 regular season games at Tropicana Field during his career.