PITTSBURGH -- Philadelphia Phillies rookie Zach Eflin is trying to establish himself in the majors. Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole already has done that but, now, hes trying to ramp up an injury-interrupted season and regain the dominance he had last year.The two right-handers match up Friday night in the first game this season between the two in-state teams, and in a series that will feature lots and lots of promising young pitching.Saturday night, for example, its 23-year-old Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (5-8) against a still-to-be-designated Pirates starter, whos all but certain to be 22-year-old rookie right-hander Tyler Glasnow in his second career start.Sunday, its 24-year-old Phillies second-year right-hander Vince Velasquez, whos been dominating at times while going 8-2, going against Pirates rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon (2-1), whos been excellent his last two times out while allowing only two runs in 12 innings.Combined number of major league starts for the five projected starters other than Cole, whos made 86 starts for Pittsburgh? A total of 67 starts.Cole, of course, was 19-8 last season in leading the Pirates staff during a 98-win season. But a strained right triceps recently kept him out for a month, and Cole was uneven during his return Saturday, a 6-0 loss in Washington in which he gave up four earned runs in four innings.I just didnt execute enough pitches, Cole said after the game, his third loss -- against five wins -- in his last 11 starts. If I made one quality pitch I followed it up with a subpar (pitch). The ball was elevated, especially out of the stretch. I got crushed.Pirates manager Clint Hurdle wouldnt go that far, but he wants to see Cole (5-5) get back to being the pitcher who won five of six decisions from April 21 through May 20.He needs to get back here and help us and get involved in the fight with us, Hurdle said.The Phillies, losers of four of five after dropping a 9-3 decision to the Miami Marlins on Thursday, arent fighting for anything much during the second half of the season, but that young pitching staff is one of baseballs most gifted. And Eflin is one of the most intriguing of that group, putting up a 2.56 ERA in six starts since allowing nine runs in his major league debut against Toronto.Still, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin wanted to see more from Eflin than he did during a 5-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, when the rookie gave up three runs in six innings. He also had Philadelphias only hit off Jacob deGrom.Really, I wasnt comfortable with him, Mackanin told the Philadelphia Inquirer, and not in a decidedly negative way. He needs some work on his slider. But, for a 22-year-old kid, youve got to like him. He can throw a four-seamer and a two-seamer and hes got a good change-up. He locates real well and, for 22 years old, you dont see that a lot.The fans attending the weekend series at PNC Park will see a wealth of young pitching from both sides as the Phillies become the final NL team to play in Pittsburgh this season.The Pirates are on something of a roll, winning three of four and 12 of 17 as they contend again in the NL Central.They got four RBI from last-minute lineup addition Matt Joyce -- who hit a three-run homer in the first, minutes after Starling Martes illness shoved him into the lineup -- in beating the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 Thursday night behind left-hander Francisco Liriano (6-9), who won for only the second time since May 24.Hes having a great year, hes crushed some balls, Liriano said of Joyce, whose ninth homer was his first this season before the seventh inning. Anthony Davis Jersey Large .ca. Hey Kerry, big fan of yours, just finished reading your book. I think that we all saw the Canucks/Flames line brawl just after puck drop. 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HOUSTON -- As the Rangers mind their loose ends in advance of the postseason, small victories take on greater significance with the American League West title all but clinched.On Monday night, the Rangers parlayed three strong performances from a trio of vital relief pitchers into a 4-3, 12-inning victory over the fading Astros.Before left-hander Jake Diekman recorded his fourth save with a perfect 12th inning, right-handers Matt Bush and Keone Kela combined to work 3 2/3 scoreless innings to help Texas (86-59) overcome the fifth blown save from closer Sam Dyson.Diekman had allowed eight consecutive batters to reach base during one recent four-game stretch. Kela was charged with a blown save on Saturday against the Angels, allowing a season-high four hits and three runs. Bush is just 1-for-4 in save opportunities. All three stepped forward when the Rangers needed them on Monday, and collectively Bush, Kela and Diekman are key cogs in Texas bullpen.I think its huge for them, Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. Obviously theyve had some minor challenges. For them to show up big for us ... thats what weve seen in the past from these guys, thats what were going to need to see from them going forward.Right-hander A.J. Griffin (7-4, 4.92 ERA) will start for Texas on Tuesday night. He has won two previous starts against the Astros this season, posting a 3.86 ERA over 11 2/3 innings. Griffin is 5-0 with a 4.54 ERA in six career starts against Houston, including a pair of victoories at Minute Maid Park.dddddddddddd His seventh start against the Astros will tie the Angels and Mariners for the most against one team in his career.The Astros (75-69), meanwhile, continue to search for answers against their in-state rivals. Houston fell to 3-14 against Texas this season and has dropped 22 of the last 27 meetings between the clubs dating back to Aug. 3, 2015. The Rangers improved to a remarkable 32-10 in one-run games on Monday night, thus their success in close contests with Houston isnt much of a shock. Of the 17 games played between the clubs this season, 13 have been decided by two runs or less.They have finished the games, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. We have battled them. These are small margins and small increments that have not gone our way. I dont know what to say. They have beat us in close games. They have beat us in blowouts. We have beat them a few times along the way. Its baseball, it happens. We have to find a way to beat them tomorrow.Right-hander Brad Peacock (0-0, 3.38 ERA) will make his fifth career start against the Rangers as the Astros attempt to even the series. Peacock is 1/3 with a 3.76 ERA over five games against Texas. Hell be facing the Rangers for the first time in 2016.Peacock is filling the rotation void left by left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who is sidelined by left shoulder inflammation. ' ' '