A superb record at Progressive Field made the Cleveland Indians the majors' surprise team of the first two months. Nothing, however, has been advantageous about their home field lately.
The Indians enter Sunday trying to avoid their longest home losing streak since 2005 and their first four-game sweep to the surging Texas Rangers in 33 years.
Cleveland (33-23) was a surprising 30-15 after a 3-2 comeback win over Boston on May 23, its 19th victory in 21 games at Progressive Field.
The Indians lost their next two games to the Red Sox before going 3-3 on a road trip, and a return to northeast Ohio hasn't helped them get back on track. Texas (33-26) has outscored Cleveland 22-6 in winning all three games, the latest Saturday's 4-0 win as Derek Holland went the distance.
"Everyone has pitched in and done their part, but on a night like this when you run into pitching like that, and you have three guys in the whole lineup hitting over .250, it's tough to get things going," manager Manny Acta said.
The Indians' five-game skid at home matches their worst from last season, but they haven't had a longer one since dropping six straight July 5-17, 2005.
The Rangers haven't swept Cleveland in a four-game set since Aug. 11-13, 1978, winning a doubleheader in that finale, and they've played 21 series of that length since.
While Cleveland has seen its torrid start slow down, Texas has gotten going. The Rangers have compiled an impressive 58 extra-base hits and outscored opponents 78-44 while going 10-3 since May 22.
Josh Hamilton has been a big reason for that surge. The reigning AL MVP has 12 RBIs in as many games since returning from a fractured right shoulder, and half of those have come since Texas arrived in Cleveland.
He's homered in the last two wins and is 19 for 38 with 11 RBIs in his last nine games at Progressive Field.
Hamilton is 1 for 3 in his career against Mitch Talbot (2-1, 4.50 ERA), who tries to help the Indians avoid their first four-game skid of the season.
Talbot missed six weeks with a right elbow strain, and his return May 25 against Boston couldn't have gone much worse. The right-hander gave up eight runs and 12 hits while lasting just three innings in a 14-2 loss.
He bounced back in fine fashion to win Tuesday, holding Toronto to a run and six hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 6-3 victory.
"The first three innings he was a little shaky with his control, but he made good pitches when he had to," Acta said.
Talbot gave up four runs and seven hits - including a two-run homer by Michael Young - over 5 2-3 innings in his lone career start against Texas, a 4-3 road loss July 7.
The Rangers counter with C.J. Wilson (5-3, 3.32), who has struck out 25 in 20 innings over his last three starts.
The left-hander is just 1-1 in that stretch, though, as all six runs he's allowed have come via homers. Up 3-1 in the seventh inning Tuesday in Tampa, Wilson wound up leaving without a decision after giving up a two-run shot to Matt Joyce.
"I'm really disappointed with myself," Wilson said after the Rangers' 5-4 loss. "I feel like I cost us the game for us. It's frustrating."
Wilson held the Indians to two hits and a run over six innings in a 12-1 win July 6, his lone start in the series since 2005.
Slumping Cleveland outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is expected to return after getting Saturday off.
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