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TEX@KC: Perez goes 5 2/3 solid frames, whiffs three

The Rangers are busy looking up at the Rays and Indians in the race for the American League Wild Card, but they are also looking forward to the competition to come.

"We have a very good opportunity ahead of us and have to take advantage of it," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We're trying to get the Wild Card spot, but we're not satisfied with that. Our goal is to win the World Series. We just have to win our game, that's the bottom line."

The Rangers defeated the Astros on Tuesday, 3-2, to stay within striking distance of the AL Wild Card leaders. On Wednesday, Texas will send Martin Perez to the mound. Houston will counter with Dallas Keuchel.

"I just want to finish strong, do the same things I did before: relax, be aggressive and attack the hitters," Perez said. "We know we have to win. That's what I want to do -- win and compete. These games are just too important. I just need to win."

Perez is 0-2 with a 4.24 ERA in his last three starts, but he is 2-3 with a 3.07 ERA in seven starts at Rangers Ballpark. He made one start against the Astros on Aug. 11 in Houston, beating them, 6-1, with his only complete game.

Keuchel will make his final start of the season in Wednesday's series finale in Arlington, which will be the Astros' final road game of the season. In his last six starts, he's 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA, having allowed 43 hits in 34 innings. The Astros are 1-5 in those starts.

"I thought I pitched better than my record or ERA indicated," Keuchel said. "There's always going to be people that don't think so, but you try to think about what you can improve on this offseason, and I'm going to try to be a better pitcher and improve my mental game."

Keuchel is willing to take on a bigger leadership role next year. The club could use his help. The Astros have lost 11 in a row and have tied last year's club record with 107 losses.

"This was pretty much my first full year," Keuchel said. "I came up the second game of the year. It's one of those things we're putting pieces together and have a lot of young talent and have been bringing guys up from the Minor Leagues we drafted a few year ago. Just teaching guys who to play big league ball the way I was shown last year by the veteran guys before they left."

Astros: Grossman out for season
• Rookie outfielder Robbie Grossman hasn't played since straining his oblique swinging the bat Sept. 3 against the Mariners and will not return to the field this season.

"At this point, given the amount of time he's missed, I think it's not wise to rush him back and play him a couple of games," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

• The 27 road wins by the Astros this season eclipses their total of 20 road wins in 2012.

• Chris Carter is hitting .275 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs on the road this season.

Rangers: Cruz gets work in instructional league
• Nelson Cruz, who is serving 50-game suspension, is 5-for-15 with a home run and four RBIs in his first four games of advanced instructional league. He would be eligible to play on Monday if there is a Wild Card tie-breaker game.

• Keuchel is one of three left-handers the Rangers will face their final five games. They will face Angels right-handed pitcher Jerome Williams, lefty C.J. Wilson, right-hander Garrett Richards and southpaw Jason Vargas in the next series.

• Jeff Baker is expected to start at designated hitter on Wednesday.

Worth Noting
• Since losing the 2013 opener in Houston on March 31, the Rangers have won 16 of 17 meetings against the Astros, including 10 straight, to take a 16-2 lead in the season series.

• The Astros will have a special on-field ceremony for Mariano Rivera before the game against the Yankees on Sunday. Joe Torre and Roger Clemens are scheduled to take part.

• There have been five cycles at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington since 2006, tied with Coors Field for most in the big leagues in that span.

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