By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Yu Darvish failed to become the AL's first eight-game winner last week in part because of the Texas Rangers' defensive struggles.
There's no chance the Japanese right-hander will win No. 8 in his next outing if his teammates can't get their offense in gear.
Darvish will get his second look at the Oakland Athletics on Thursday when the AL West-leading Rangers try to rebound from their first shutout of the season and earn a split of this four-game series by the Bay.
Darvish (7-3, 3.34 ERA) wasn't at his best in Saturday's 3-2 loss at the Los Angeles Angels - giving up three runs in 6 1-3 innings - but he could have been in line for the victory if he didn't have to pitch around two errors.
"Yu Darvish did a heck of a job out there tonight, and we didn't support him because we didn't make the plays," manager Ron Washington said. "It was a very ugly performance."
That's a good description of how the Rangers (33-24) looked in Wednesday's 2-0 loss, as they were held to five hits - all singles - while losing for the sixth time in eight games. Texas had a season-low three hits in Monday's 12-1 series-opening defeat.
"... We couldn't do anything offensively," Washington said following his team's first regular-season shutout since Sept. 16.
Texas, which has dropped nine of its last 13 to divisional foes, will look to get back on track as Darvish takes on the A's (25-32) for the first time since striking out seven and surrendering one run in 7 2-3 innings of a 4-1 home win May 16.
He didn't face rookie Yoenis Cespedes in that contest - the Cuban rookie was on the disabled list during that two-game set with a strained muscle in his left hand - but he likely will Thursday.
Cespedes is 6 for 11 with a homer, triple, two doubles and four RBIs in this series after being a home run shy of the cycle Wednesday.
"When he has good offensive nights, it always feels like we win," manager Bob Melvin said. "... Since he's come back, that was his best game as far as the quality of his swing."
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre has not looked good at the plate over the last five games - he's 2 for 20 with nine strikeouts - but facing Thursday's scheduled starter Brandon McCarthy (4-3, 2.95) could be exactly what he needs. Beltre's .429 batting average (12 for 28) off McCarthy is his third-highest against any pitcher he's faced that many times.
McCarthy, who spent 2007-09 with Texas, makes his second start since coming off the disabled list from a strained shoulder. McCarthy allowed two runs in six innings of Saturday's 9-3 victory at Kansas City.
"I was hoping for five innings and he gave us six," Melvin said after McCarthy's 71-pitch performance. "That's what he does."
McCarthy has won his last four decisions - compiling a 2.53 ERA during that five-start stretch - but he's 1-3 with a 4.47 ERA in eight starts against his former team. He gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-4, 10-inning loss at Arlington on May 17 - a scheduled day off for Josh Hamilton.
The 2010 AL MVP is hitting .214 (12 for 56) with one homer on the road since his 5-for-5, four-homer effort in Baltimore on May 8.
Updated June 7, 2012