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Rangers send Darvish to hill against Mets

( – The bad news for the Texas Rangers is that they have lost nine in a row on the road. The good news, however, is that they’ll have staff ace Yu Darvish on the hill Friday when they begin a three-game series with the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Thanks to a rain delay in Baltimore on Thursday the Rangers pushed Darvish back a day, opting to have him open the series with the Mets rather than potentially have to sit through a delay.

It didn’t matter much, as Texas lost for the fifth straight game overall, falling to the Orioles, 5-2. Shin-Soo Choo belted a solo homer in the loss for the Rangers, who are in the midst of their worst road slide since dropping 12 in a row from May 30-June 19, 2003.

Scott Baker (0-2) got the call in place of Darvish and surrendered seven hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The Rangers have now lost 14 of their last 17 games.

“We are very frustrated,” outfielder Alex Rios said. “It is tough to deal with a situation like this. The only thing we can do is keep playing. There is nothing else we can do really, just enjoy our time on the field and make the best of it.”

Texas’ last win came with Darvish on the hill, as he scattered four hits and struck out 10 over eight scoreless innings to beat the Minnesota Twins. The victory improved him to 8-4 on the year to go along with a 2.42 ERA.

“I can only pitch once every five days so there is no burden o my shoulders,” Darvish said. “I just have to do my job on the day that I start.”

Darvish has been particularly stingy against the National League, going 6-1 with a 1.32 ERA in eight career interleague starts. He’s allowed one run with 50 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings while winning four of his last five.

That’s not exactly ideal for a New York team that was just swept in a three- game set by the Atlanta Braves and comes into this opener having dropped seven of its last eight.

The Mets, though, should get a boost on Friday with the return of third baseman David Wright, who has missed six games with a bruised shoulder. Wright is batting .277 this season with six home runs in 79 games, but had hit .385 with eight RBI in the 10 games before he was sidelined.

“Obviously we miss David’s bat in the lineup, there’s no doubt,” manager Terry Collins said after Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Braves. “We competed as good as we can compete.”

New York hands the ball tonight to lefty Jonathon Niese, who has won his last two starts. Niese beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, holding them to three runs and seven hits in six innings to run his record to 5-4 on the year to go along with a 2.88 ERA.

Niese beat the Rangers the only other time he faced them back in 2011.

New York took two of three from the Rangers in that series and have won six of nine from them overall.

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