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Slugger Davis, Orioles kick off series in Texas

Jul 19, 2013 - 2:57 PM (Sports Network) - Chris Davis tries to build upon an amazing first half of the season on Friday when the Baltimore Orioles start their post All-Star Game slate against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Davis matched the American League record for most home runs before the All- Star break, as he swatted 37 to tie Reggie Jackson's 1969 mark. He also drove in 93 in runs, which are two shy of Miguel Cabrera's major league-leading total.

He had been mired in an 0-for-17 slump, but homered in each of his final four games before the break.

However, Davis battled a blister problem at Monday's Home Run Derby. It doesn't appear to be something that will bother him going forward.

"This is something that happens usually once a year from swinging so much," he said. "I started to feel it early in the second round and thought, 'OK, just hang on to the bat.' It was a callus, but I guess this many consecutive swings and it decided to blow open."

Davis' heroics are a huge reason why the O's entered the break at 10 games over .500 a year after their first playoff appearance since 1997. Baltimore finds itself 4 1/2 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but 1 1/2 games back of Texas for the second wild card spot in the league.

Getting the call for the Orioles on Friday will be Taiwanese lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who won his first start since returning from the disabled list his last time out. Chen had missed nearly two months with a strained oblique, but was sharp against the Rangers, limiting them to a run and three hits in seven innings to improve to 4-3, while lowering his ERA to 2.82.

Texas, meanwhile, holds one of the two wild card spots and is just two games behind Oakland in the AL West, as it tries for a fourth consecutive postseason berth, despite a bevy of injuries, particularly in the starting rotation.

"It's been a good season so far," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "These players have shown what they are made of. With everything that has happened, they haven't let anything bother them. I expect them to go out and continue that."

Washington will hand the ball to lefty Derek Holland on Friday, as he tries to win his fourth consecutive decision. Holland beat the Detroit Tigers on Saturday, despite walking five batters. Still, he improved to 8-4 in the win and lowered his ERA to 3.08.

"I just have to start the second half strong," Holland said. "I want to continue what I've been doing."

Holland beat the Orioles two starts ago and is 4-1 lifetime versus them with a 3.66 ERA in six games (5 starts).

Texas split a four-game series with the O's last week.