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TEX@SEA: Ogando strikes out five over five strong

The Cubs and Rangers will try to play on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the Chicago weather could mess with the teams' plans for the second straight day.

An ominous forecast led to Wednesday night's game being postponed at about 5 p.m. CT. More storms are expected on Thursday, with wind and 100 percent chance of rain. The Rangers held on to win, 4-2, in Tuesday night's opener of the three-game series, the only time the teams are scheduled to meet this season.

Another rainout could force them into some makeup dates later in the year. That's just one example of the Chicago weather creating havoc for the Cubs, who have been rained out twice and have dealt with unpleasant conditions even when they have played.

"This has probably been a little exceptional as far as not being able to get on the field, and when we get on the field, it's been pretty miserable work conditions, too," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "But that's what it is. Guys get plenty of swings in, but the concerning part is the work on the defense and those kind of things. But that's part of the game. It's a long season, we've just come out of spring. But the bottom line is we're just not getting on the field and getting any kind of quality work."

In terms of pitching plans, the teams reacted differently to Wednesday's postponement. While the Cubs are sticking with that game's scheduled starter, Carlos Villanueva, the Rangers will push back Justin Grimm and go with their original Thursday starter, Alexi Ogando.

Villanueva is winless this season despite notching a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings over his first two starts. The right-hander, in his first year with the Cubs, has seen the team's shaky bullpen blow leads for him in both outings.

Ogando also is off to a strong start, with a 2-0 record to show for it. The right-hander, back from a bullpen role in 2012, ranks third in the American League with a 1.08 ERA and eighth with a .194 opponents' batting average.

"He has been pitching extremely well," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He still has to find command of his fastball, and when he finds that, he will be even better. He is still able to throw his secondary pitches, but his bread and butter is still the command of his fastball."

As a starter in 2011, Ogando threw his fastball 67.4 percent of the time, according to STATS Inc. That has dipped to 45.2 percent this season, with his slider usage jumping from 27.9 percent to 42.3 percent and his changeup from 4.5 percent to 12.5 percent.

"I worked really hard on my secondary pitches in Spring Training and I am more comfortable throwing them," Ogando said.

Rangers: Murphy slated for return
• Struggling left fielder David Murphy had Tuesday off, but was in the lineup on Wednesday before the game was postponed. He is hitting .160 in his first 13 games and is 1-for-12 over his past three.

Slow starts are nothing new for Murphy. His .232 career average and .681 OPS in March and April are easily his lowest of any month, followed by May. Washington believes Murphy will figure things out.

"He's a battler," Washington said. "He's not the only one, we've got a few guys who need to come around. He has a record that shows he knows how to come around."

• With the series at Wrigley Field played under National League rules, designated hitter Lance Berkman won't be in the lineup on Thursday, but he could appear as a pinch-hitter. His 23 plate appearances against Villanueva are 11 more than any other Rangers player, and he has produced two doubles and two home runs in those opportunities.

Cubs: Gregg back with former club
• General manager Jed Hoyer said the additions of relievers Kevin Gregg and Kameron Loe on Tuesday were aimed at adding more experience to the back end of the bullpen. Gregg not only has pitched 10 years in the big leagues, but also knows his way around Wrigley Field, having played for the team in 2009.

The Cubs acquired Gregg in a trade with the Marlins the previous winter, and he went on to pitch in 72 games, although he struggled to a 4.72 ERA. He saved 23 games in 30 chances, with Carlos Marmol taking the closer's role later in the year.

"I really enjoyed my time here and I love the city of Chicago and I love the Cubs," Gregg said. "Being able to be a part of this organization, I just saw it as a good fit for me and my family."

• Second baseman Darwin Barney was activated from the disabled list and made his season debut on Tuesday. Barney, who was out with a cut on his knee, went 0-for-4, lining out to center field with the bases loaded to end the game.

Worth noting
• Rangers relievers had not allowed a run in their last 11 innings before Joe Nathan gave up a two-run double to Nate Schierholtz with two outs in Tuesday's ninth inning. Texas' bullpen still was fourth in the league with a 2.43 ERA entering Wednesday.

• Tuesday was the sixth straight game in which the Rangers scored no more than four runs. They are hitting .219 with three home runs over that span. Comments