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W2W4: Rangers at Astros

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers open a three-game set against the in-state rival Houston Astros at 7:10 p.m. CT Monday at Minute Maid Park.

The Rangers have lost two straight to fall to fourth place in the American League West with a 19-19 record, four games off the pace set by the Oakland Athletics. The Astros are fifth with a 12-26 mark, 11 games out of first.

Some things to watch:

* Expect close games. The Rangers won two of three over Houston in April, with both victories coming by 1-0 scores. The first Rangers win went 12 innings. Houston’s victory went 10 innings and was decided by one run, 6-5. The Astros’ last three losses have been decided by one run.

* Both teams are sub-.500 in their past 10 games. Houston completed a 2-5 road trip to the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, while Texas finished 2-3 on at home against the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox.

* Adrian Beltre batted .357 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBI in 42 at-bats at Minute Maid Park last season. The Rangers third baseman missed the first series in against the Astros in Arlington because of injury.

* Alex Rios has hit Houston well. Coming into this season, Rios carried a .344 average against the Astros in a three-year span beginning in 2011.

* Texas reliever Aaron Poreda has been valuable in a role as a middle-inning stopper. The left-hander has not yet allowed a run in nine appearances covering 8 1/3 innings.

* Houston’s pesky second baseman Jose Altuve is hitting .287 against the Rangers with an on-base percentage of .320.