Preview: Rangers at Cardinals

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[June 17, 2016]  SportsDirect Inc.

The St. Louis Cardinals were riding high with a sizzling offense en route to winning seven of eight contests before their bats were cooled considerably against one Lone Star State representative. The host Cardinals look to get back on track versus the other on Friday when they open a three-game interleague series versus the red-hot Texas Rangers.

St. Louis slugged its way to 58 runs in wins over San Francisco, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh being outscored 9-3 to drop both contests of an abbreviated two-game interleague set versus Houston. Yadier Molina recorded his third three-hit performance in six outings and scored the Cardinals' lone run in a 4-1 setback to the Astros on Wednesday. The 33-year-old Molina has struggled in five meetings with American League West-leading Texas, going 2-for-19 in his career, while his performance versus veteran Cole Hamels isn't much better (6-for-25). The Rangers seized their franchise high-tying eighth consecutive series victory by winning three of four versus Oakland and 20 of 26 overall heading into the last leg of their 10-game road trip.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Southwest (Texas), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers LH Cole Hamels (6-1, 3.14 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (2-6, 4.91)

Hamels has made himself at home on the road, posting a 4-0 mark with a 1.94 ERA in six starts this season. The 32-year-old continued that success on Sunday after allowing one run on four hits in seven innings of a 6-4 triumph versus Seattle. Hamels' lone blemish was a blast by Leonys Martin, which served as his 11th homer surrendered in his last seven games after yielding four in his previous six contests.

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Wacha's winless stretch extended to nine outings on Friday as the 24-year-old settled for his second straight no-decision despite allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings versus Pittsburgh. The strong outing hasn't been a familiar sight for the former Texas A&M star, who has lost a career-worst six consecutive decisions since April 28 and has permitted at least four runs on five occasions during his winless run. Ian Desmond went deep in Thursday's 5-1 win over the Athletics and has six hits in his last three games, but is just 1-for-9 with four strikeouts versus Wacha.

WALK-OFFS

1. Texas 3B Adrian Beltre, who had two singles and a double on Thursday, has hit safely in four straight games and 12 of his last 14 overall.

2. Second-place St. Louis hasn't done itself any favors at Busch Stadium, limping to a 15-18 mark this season.

3. The Rangers have erupted for 11 homers in their last four contests.

PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Cardinals 2

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