ARLINGTON — Travis Blackley earned himself at least one more start with the Texas Rangers.Manager Ron Washington said the rotation would remain the same the next time through, which means Blackley is scheduled to start Monday at Seattle.Blackley allowed two runs over four innings and 66 pitches on Tuesday, his first start this season. Blackley, acquired from the Houston Astros earlier this month, had pitched exclusively in relief this season.He should be able to throw about 80-85 pitches in his next start.“I knew what he could do and he did it,” Washington said. “If he was in any kind of [starting] shape, he could’ve gone further but we knew he had 65 pitches in him. We were hoping to get five, but that last inning they fought him pretty good.”Blackley is a methodical pitcher, and is known to work rather slowly. Washington, though, said he didn’t realize that until a reporter brought it up in his pregame briefing Wednesday.“If it takes 30 seconds for him to get outs, I’ll sit there and endure,” Washington said, smiling.40-save man?Joe Nathan is three saves away from becoming the fourth pitcher in history to have a 40-save season at age 38 or older. Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Jose Mesa are the other three to accomplish the feat.Nathan picked up his 37th save Tuesday, matching his 2012 total, and is well on his way to the 40-mark. He is also on track for a career high, which he set in 2009 with 47.“I haven’t even thought about it,” Nathan said. “I just keep plugging away and try to seal victories when we have chances to win and see what the number is at the end of the year. I won’t be mad if we go out and win every game by 7 or 8 runs and I don’t reach it. That’s fine with me.”Line of leftiesLeft-hander Erik Bedard started Wednesday for the Astros, beginning a string of five straight lefties scheduled to start against the Rangers. All three White Sox starters this weekend are left-handed, and Joe Saunders is expected to start Monday for Seattle.That means a heavy dose of Jeff Baker and Craig Gentry in place of Mitch Moreland and David Murphy. Ron Washington said he expects to stick with his standard lineup against left-handed starters, which features Baker and Gentry.The Rangers have fared well against lefties of late, too, winning six consecutive games against them entering Wednesday.HomecomingThe series against the White Sox in Chicago will carry extra meaning for A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios. The former South Siders will be making their first trip to U.S. Cellular Field since joining the Rangers.“It’ll be nice to go back and see some friends and a bunch of people I haven’t seen since last year,” Pierzynski said. “I love the city, love the people there. Other than that, I hope we play well and win the games.”The Rangers have fared well on the road this season at 36-26. No team in the American League has won more road games than them, which is comforting to Ron Washington with 12 of their next 15 away from home.Briefly• Michael Kirkman is still on the Rangers’ radar, Ron Washington said. The left-hander threw five scoreless innings for Round Rock on Tuesday, and will get consideration as another left-handed reliever in the bullpen when rosters expand Sept. 1.• The Rangers signed infielder Brendan Harris to a minor league contract Wednesday, and he will report to Triple A Round Rock. Harris started the season with the Angels, and also had a brief stint in the Yankees organization.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison