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By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- It's not surprising the Houston Astros own the worst record in baseball, but it's unexpected the Texas Rangers aren't much better.
The Rangers attempt to begin pulling out of their tailspin in the opener of this three-game Lone Star Series on Monday night while the Astros try to avoid their longest slide of the season.
Rebuilding with youth and slowly improving, Houston (36-54) has a chance to avoid its fourth straight 100-loss season but has met expectations of a last-place team struggling to win.
Texas (38-50), however, is fourth in the division and only three games better than the Astros after four consecutive 90-win campaigns that included two AL West titles and a wild-card appearance.
The Rangers' struggles have been on full display of late, averaging 3.3 runs while their starters have compiled a 6.91 ERA while losing seven of eight.
The offense showed some signs of life while dropping two of three on the road to the New York Mets, hitting .295 with seven homers. However, Texas lacked clutch hits in Sunday's 8-4 loss, going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
"It's nice that they started to swing and able to get the ball in the air and start finding the fences," manager Ron Washington said. "Now, we've got to start doing it with runners in scoring position so we can put up some crooked numbers."
While the Astros' 4.38 ERA is among the highest in the majors, the Rangers batted .212, hit only one homer and totaled seven runs while taking two of three from them at home from April 11-13.
Still, they've won 17 of the past 20 meetings there.
Adrian Beltre has a .395 average with five homers and 13 RBIs in his last 12 matchups there, but he missed the last series with a leg injury.
The third baseman is hitting .431 in 16 games and will join Yu Darvish as the only Rangers representatives at the All-Star game in Minnesota on July 15.
The Astros have matched their season-high seven-game losing streak set April 13-20 after falling 6-1 to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
"Right now we're in a rut, and we have not played well, but nobody is going to feel sorry for you," manager Bo Porter said. "It's up to the men in this clubhouse. These are the guys that we have and those are the guys we're going to run out there. It's going to be up to us to rectify what it is we have going."
Jarred Cosart (8-6, 3.93) takes the mound and he's won three straight road starts with a 1.89 ERA.
The right-hander, though, gave up six runs and nine hits with four walks in 5 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 13-2 home loss to Seattle. He had won each of his previous four starts behind a 2.25 ERA.
"When he was on the streak that he was on, he was really finishing his breaking ball and inducing weak contact, but (Tuesday), there were just a lot of pitches up in the zone," Porter said.
Cosart is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts against the Rangers, surrendering three runs in seven innings of a 6-5, 10-inning win on April 12.
The Rangers are turning to Miles Mikolas (0-0, 5.06), who was impressive early in a 6-4 loss at Baltimore in his season debut Wednesday after being called from Triple-A Round Rock a day earlier. He allowed one run in five innings but did not get a decision after giving up two more while recording one out in the sixth.
Updated July 6, 2014