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Darren Oliver one outing from option

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There seems little doubt that the Rangers would have exercised the option on Darren Oliver's contract, but the veteran left-handed reliever didn't want to give them the choice.

"You want to earn it," Oliver said. "I think I've done that with how I performed. There's satisfaction there. I feel better about earning it."

Oliver's next appearance will be his 59th, guaranteeing that he makes $3.25 million in 2011 as a member of the Rangers bullpen. He'll do it at the age of 40 (his birthday is Oct. 6).

"I knew I could get there if I avoided injuries and pitched well," Oliver said.

Oliver is 1-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 56 2/3 innings pitched. He has 62 strikeouts and 14 walks and opponents are batting .237 against him. Lefties have hit just .192 against him.

Oliver was extremely productive in the first half, where he pitched a lot of outings. He had a 1.36 ERA in 39 2/3 innings before the All-Star break. Since then, he's got a 5.29 ERA, but much of that was because of some August struggles (5.40 ERA). He's got a 1.93 ERA in September and he's looked more like the pitcher from the first half of the season in his last few outings.

"This is a good team and a fun group," Oliver said. "I made the right choice coming here. I'm excited to be here."