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BAL@MIN: Chen shuts out Twins over five innings

With the Orioles nursing a week-long slide down the standings, who better to turn to than a starter far removed from the negative action?

Baltimore lefty Wei-Yin Chen will make his first start since May 12 -- when he strained his right oblique in Minnesota -- on Wednesday night against the Rangers as the teams square off for the third meeting of a four-game series.

Before the injury, Chen had tallied five quality starts in eight outings, posting a 3.04 ERA and a 3-3 record.

He'll go up against a Texas offense he's only faced once before. The southpaw held the powerful Rangers lineup to two runs (one earned) over 7 2/3 innings last season in his only start against them.

Chen said he's not expecting to miss a beat, citing the two rehab starts he made at Double-A Bowie and a steady approach on the mound as his rust-busters.

"I'm definitely ready to pitch for my next start. Same approach to every game," Chen said via interpreter Tim Lin. "Like [my] last outing, I'm ready to pitch."

Chen will be tasked with stopping a hot Rangers lineup, which has averaged 6.8 runs over the last six games, including a pair of eight-run outbursts in two straight wins over the O's.

Backing up those bats will be spot starter Josh Lindblom, who's getting a turn in the rotation due to Nick Tepesch's disabled list stint with right elbow inflammation.

Lindblom's started four games this season, allowing 13 runs over 21 2/3 innings with an 0-2 record. But Texas manager Ron Washington is nothing if not confident in the young righty, citing preparation and pitch balance as key factors for transitioning from the bullpen to spot-start duty.

"He uses his changeup a lot more and he's been able to bring his curveball into play," Washington said. "He's able to spot his fastball. He does his homework and he's prepared. We feel confidence with him starting."

This will likely be a one-time starting nod for Lindblom, given that Texas expects Alexi Ogando back after the All-Star break. Ogando has been out since June 5 with inflammation in his right elbow.

Orioles: Problems in the clutch
Despite putting up respectable run totals on the scoreboard, frustration has lined the faces of Baltimore batters often in two losses to the Rangers.

The O's are hitting a combined 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position through half a series against Texas. While most baseball minds chalk up stats like that to a small sample size, Orioles manager Buck Showalter is preaching a more proactive approach.

"We play a long season, I got it, but we've got to live in the moment," Showalter said. "It's something we have been, will be, but should be better at. … We know, and it's frustrating.

"I don't dwell on it, but I do want to figure out how we're going to keep it from happening. People know what they're doing. There's no surprises."

Rangers: Upgrading rotation
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels acknowledged he is looking for starting pitching in the trade market, but he is hoping the return of some of the four starters off the disabled list will be a bigger help to the team.

"We're always going to check around and see if there is an opportunity to improve," Daniels said Tuesday. "It's still early to say how things will pan out."

The Rangers are among teams that have scouted Cubs pitcher Matt Garza, and the Brewers may be willing to talk about Yovani Gallardo, but the latest scouting reports have not been good. Gallardo is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his last four starts.

Though the Rangers are in the market for arms, their strategy suggests they aren't looking to fill a hole as much as looking to upgrade if there is somebody better available.

Worth noting
• Craig Gentry, who is on the disabled list with a fractured left hand, took regular batting practice on Tuesday.

• Steve Johnson (oblique) will throw batting practice Thursday in Sarasota, Fla., Showalter said. He threw 35 pitches off the mound Monday and reported no problems, and Showalter said he is progressing with his injury.

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