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OAK@TB: Cobb fans eight in first career shutout

Rays manager Joe Maddon had been contemplating swapping Alex Cobb and Matt Moore in the rotation, but in the end he elected to turn to Cobb on Wednesday.

The right-hander, coming off his best start of the season, hopes to continue his stellar play in the finale of a three-game set with the Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rays have had little luck so far in the series, losing each game by a run, but are hoping that Cobb can right the ship and end the team's four-game losing streak.

Last time out, Cobb threw his first shutout, dominating the Athletics in an outing that saw him give up just four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. He's hoping for more of the same against the Rangers.

"I'm just trying to have the same mechanics that I took into that start," Cobb said.

He'll have a tough task going against the Rangers' Matt Harrison, who has been on a roll lately, going 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five August starts.

The left-hander didn't allow a run in eight innings last time out, earning the win over Minnesota. He finished with just two hits and two walks to go along with five punchouts. Facing the Rays is a different task, though, but he believes he's up to the challenge because of the familiarity between the two teams thanks to recent postseason play.

"We've faced them the last two years in the playoffs, so it's nothing new," Harrison said. "We've got this series and another next week in [St. Petersburg]. It's a potential playoff matchup, but we got some confidence beating [David] Price on Monday, and hopefully that will carry over."

Wednesday's game has been scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET but was moved up to 6 p.m. to help alleviate traffic, as the Dallas Cowboys are holding an exhibition game at 7:30 p.m. at nearby Cowboys Stadium, an exhibition that had been planned for Thursday.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6, and the Cowboys were supposed to hold their season opener the same day. NBC, which will be broadcasting the game, moved the game to Sept. 5, and as a result, the Cowboys moved the exhibition.

Rays: Niemann to return Saturday
Right-hander Jeff Niemann is set to come off the 60-day disabled list on Saturday, when rosters expand, and he is expected to start against the Blue Jays that day.

Niemann fractured his right fibula on May 14 after taking a line drive from Toronto's Adam Lind off the leg. The move pushes Price's next start back a day.

Tampa Bay's current plan is to keep a five-man rotation with Niemann filling in for a spot start or pushing the other starters back.

"I want to come in and just continue the trend," Niemann said. "And I feel like we can do that and just make the team better. And that's what I'm trying to do -- make the team better and contribute."

Rangers: Oswalt could be on the move
Texas is reportedly in talks with other clubs to possibly trade pitcher Roy Oswalt before Friday, the deadline for players to be eligible for the postseason.

It is unlikely the Rangers would send Oswalt, who cleared waivers three weeks ago, to a playoff contender in the American League.

"I don't have any say-so," Oswalt said. "If they trade me, I would have to go. I'm just going to do what they tell me to do."

The righty has struggled since signing with the team in May. He started eight games before being moved to the bullpen but still desires to be a starter. He's 4-2 on the season with a 5.94 ERA.

Worth noting
• Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz left Tuesday's game with a contusion in his left elbow. He was hit by a pitch by Rays starter James Shields in the fifth inning but didn't leave the game until the ninth, when he was replaced by Craig Gentry on defense. X-rays were negative, and he is day to day.

• Josh Sale, the Rays' top Draft pick in 2010, was suspended 50 games on Tuesday for testing positive for methamphetamine and an amphetamine. He becomes the fourth player from Class A Bowling Green to be suspended in less than a week.

• Rangers catcher Mike Napoli, who's been on the DL since Aug. 11 with a strained left quad, may not be able to return to until the middle of September. Geovany Soto continues to play in his place.

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