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04/12/11 2:07 PM ET

Oliver carving niche as Rangers' setup man

DETROIT -- Darren Oliver pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Monday in the Rangers' 2-0 victory over the Tigers. He got one of the outs throwing an 86-mph fastball past Alex Avila.

"Slow [radar] gun, man, slow gun," Oliver said. "It had to have been 88 or 89. It was cold and I wasn't quite loose. That might have had something to do with it, but I think it was a slow gun."

Slow or not, Oliver is getting the job done and has settled into the eighth-inning setup role. That was a big question mark when the Rangers moved Alexi Ogando into the rotation, and right now, Oliver has been the answer.

"Right now, he's the one getting it," manager Ron Washington said. "A lot depends on his availability. If he's available, he'll be there. If he's not, we'll go with somebody else. But Ollie has been good for me in the eighth."

But Washington still hasn't figured out everybody's role in the bullpen. These things usually "shake themselves out" in the first month of the season, but there is still a whole lot of shaking going on, especially with right-handers Mark Lowe, Pedro Strop and Mason Tobin.

"I've got to figure out how to get Lowe, Strop and Tobin in the [mix], so I don't have to use [Darren] O'Day, Ollie and [Arthur] Rhodes every night," Washington said. "It will shake out when I know where Strop, Lowe and Tobin fit. If I don't, Ollie will be in 80 games before the All-Star break."

Lack of homers not worrying Hamilton

DETROIT -- Josh Hamilton went into Tuesday's game hitting .316, but also with this statistical oddity: he had both a .395 on-base percentage and slugging percentage. That's good for on-base, but not for slugging.

Hamilton, 12-for-38 at the plate, has three doubles, but is still looking for his first home run.

"I didn't hit many in Spring Training ... just two," Hamilton said. "They come in bunches. I'm not worried about it -- drive in runs and score runs. I'd rather get a hit with runners at second and third than a solo home run."

Hamilton, who took a seven-game hitting streak into Tuesday's game, has struck out 10 times with five walks. The question is if they are throwing him many strikes.

"Yeah, some," Hamilton said. "If they throw out of the zone and see me taking out of the zone, they have to throw strikes. But I'm either fouling it off or getting a cheap hit."

Hamilton said he doesn't see a big difference in the way opposing pitchers are attacking him with Adrian Beltre hitting behind him rather than Vladimir Guerrero.

"I never really bought into that whole thing," Hamilton said. "Pitchers know what they want to do with you. It doesn't matter who is behind you. They have a game plan, and they are going to stick to the game plan until you have success as a hitter. Then they'll change."

Rangers give extension to assistant GM Levine

DETROIT -- The Rangers have agreed to a contract extension with assistant general manager Thad Levine that runs through the 2015 season.

"It's no secret Thad is an integral part in everything we do," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's a real positive for the whole organization that ownership is committed to keeping our group together on and off the field."

Levine was one of Daniels' first hires in October 2005, and he assists in all areas of Major League operations, including player acquisitions, roster composition, contract negotiations and day-to-day operations.

"Continuity and stability when you have good people is important," Daniels said.

Latest on Rangers' rotation

• The Rangers still haven't made an official decision on a Wednesday's starter, but it's expected to be David Bush.

• The Rangers are pushing Colby Lewis back in the rotation while he awaits his wife, Jenny, giving birth to their second child. The Rangers are planning to go with Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando for their three-game series against the Yankees this weekend.

• Brandon Webb threw 64 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday and felt good about it. With the Rangers playing day games on the road, there's no real chance for him to throw to hitters.

• Rangers starters went into Tuesday's game with a combined ERA of 2.26, second best in the Major Leagues. Overall, their staff leads the Majors with a 2.22 ERA and a .193 opposing batting average.

• Ogando is the second Rangers pitcher to have two consecutive scoreless starts to begin a season. Left-hander Jon Matlack opened the 1980 season with consecutive shutouts. He is the first Rangers pitcher to have consecutive scoreless starts since Scott Feldman in Aug. 23 and 29, 2009.

Washington's walk a rare move

DETROIT -- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the intentional walk ordered by manager Ron Washington on Monday was a rare move. Washington, with a 2-0 lead over the Tigers, had right-hander Neftali Feliz walk Miguel Cabrera with two outs and a runner on second in the ninth inning. That brought up Victor Martinez, hitting from the left side, as the winning run.

According to Elias, it has been 37 years since a similar situation occurred where a manager intentionally walked the tying run in the ninth inning so that a right-handed pitcher could face a left-handed hitter.

On July 1, 1973, Dodgers manager Walter Alston had a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning when he had Don Sutton walk Reds catcher Johnny Bench. That brought up pinch-hitter Hal King, a left-handed hitter who belted a game-winning grand slam.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.