By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- A dazzling effort on the mound sparked the Texas Rangers in their last contest.
Josh Hamilton's bat will likely have a say in the next meeting with the New York Yankees.
The All-Star center fielder looks to help the Rangers continue their impressive start to 2012 with another strong performance against the visiting Yankees in the conclusion of a three-game series Wednesday night.
With the league's best record, Texas (14-4) is only two victories shy of its total from last April en route to a second straight AL pennant.
The Rangers dropped Monday's series opener 7-4, but Japanese import Yu Darvish turned in a splendid performance in Tuesday's 2-0 win over the Yankees (10-7). He struck out 10 while scattering seven hits over 8 1-3 innings - the Rangers' longest scoreless outing against New York since Bob Tewksbury pitched a shutout in July 1995.
"You hear a lot of guys get hyped and he was everything that you'd heard," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who is 0 for 8 in this series.
Texas is also getting production from a more familiar contributor in Hamilton, who is batting .400 with eight homers and 19 RBIs.
Six of those homers and 16 of the RBIs have come in Hamilton's last 10 contests, eight of them Rangers wins. He had an RBI single Tuesday and a solo home run in the series opener.
Hamilton is batting .326 with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last 12 meetings with the Yankees, including the 2010 AL championship series - won by Texas.
Phil Hughes (1-2, 6.75 ERA) is scheduled to face the Rangers for the first time since losing two games during that ALCS.
The right-hander allowed 11 runs, 14 hits and seven walks in 8 2-3 innings in those defeats, including the Game 6 loss that eliminated the Yankees.
Hughes, however, has dominated Texas in three regular season appearances - two starts - yielding three hits over 15 1-3 scoreless innings while striking out 13.
That form would be a welcome change, as Hughes has struggled through his first three starts of 2012. He gave up four runs in the first inning Thursday, though the offense bailed him out and he eventually got credit for a 7-6 win over Minnesota. He exited with one out in the sixth after surrendering six runs - two earned - and six hits.
Derek Jeter continues to be the Yankees' offensive catalyst, hitting .416 with four homers and 13 RBIs. He has six hits this series, and is 13 for 24 in his last six games in Arlington.
Scott Feldman (0-0, 0.00) will make a spot start for the Rangers due to Saturday's doubleheader, which Texas split with Detroit. The right-hander hasn't allowed a run in 2 1-3 innings over two relief outings.
Only two of his 11 appearances last season were starts, both against Tampa Bay. He won one and lost one, allowing four runs over 11 innings.
He's 3-2 with a 4.76 ERA in six career games - four starts - versus the Yankees.
Jeter is 3 for 11 with two homers off Feldman.
Updated April 25, 2012