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By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- A series of poor performances on the mound, particularly from the battered rotation, have played a big part in this dismal stretch by the Texas Rangers.
A day after being pounded by the worst team in baseball, the spiraling Rangers will turn to their 12th starter of the season Tuesday night as they try to avoid matching their longest losing streak against the Houston Astros.
Texas (38-51) has lost 16 of its last 19 and eight of nine while the starters have compiled an 8.16 ERA.
The Rangers got no help Monday from Miles Mikolas, who was hammered for nine runs and 12 hits in 3 1-3 innings of a 12-7 loss in the opener of this three-game Lone Star Series.
They've dropped three straight to the Astros (37-54) for the first time since 2004, one shy of their longest skid in the all-time series set from June 15-29, 2002.
Looking to help avoid matching that dubious mark will be Phil Irwin, who is making his team debut after being acquired off waivers from Pittsburgh on May 28. The right-hander is filling in for rookie Nick Martinez, who has a pulled muscle in his rib cage and may become the fourth Rangers starter on the disabled list.
"He wants to start, but just trying to be smart," general manager Jon Daniels said of Martinez. "Irwin's been throwing the ball well at Triple-A. Looking forward to seeing what he's got."
Irwin went 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA in seven games - six starts - at Triple-A Round Rock, and becomes the 12th starter used by Texas, one shy of Colorado's major league high.
His only appearance in the majors came with the Pirates on April 14, 2013, when he allowed five runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 10-7 win over Cincinnati.
Adrian Beltre continues to do his part, hitting .393 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 32 games. The All-Star third baseman had an RBI double and a solo shot Monday and is batting .415 with eight homers while plating 20 runs in his past 21 meetings with the Astros.
Houston's .237 season average is among the worst in baseball, but the bats collected a season-high 17 hits in the opener to help end a seven-game slide. John Singleton had three hits with four RBIs after going 3 for 36 over his prior 10 contests.
"It's a work in progress every day," Singleton said.
Brad Peacock (2-5, 4.38) takes the mound after struggling late in Wednesday's 5-2 loss to Seattle. The right-hander tossed five scoreless innings before giving up four runs and hitting a batter, while leaving with one out in the sixth.
He had allowed four earned runs while not getting a decision over his three previous games.
"Lost command of the strike zone," manager Bo Porter said. "He was in a complete groove and what we felt like complete control of the game, then had the hit batter where he held on to a cut fastball too long and then was not able to get back in the zone."
Peacock has a 3.06 ERA in three road starts, but is 0-2 since he's been backed by four runs. That scenario is quite familiar against Texas, as he's 0-3 with a 3.92 ERA in four career games, including three starts, thanks to receiving just five runs in his favor.
Peacock watched the offense go 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position at home May 12 while fanning a career-high 11 Rangers and allowed four runs in six innings of a 4-0 loss.
Updated July 8, 2014