ARLINGTON, Texas — Ryan Dempster said last month after he was traded to the Texas Rangers that if you make your pitches, it doesn't matter if you're pitching in the National League or the American League.
Monday night the Texas right-hander went out and did just that.
Dempster, who allowed eight runs in his only other start at Rangers Ballpark, pitched eight innings of four-hit ball as Texas opened a 10-game homestand with a 5-1 victory over Baltimore.
The Rangers have now won three consecutive games and reached a season-high 21 games over .500 for the third time this year.
Dempster (2-1) allowed a run in the first on a pair of hits that were nearly outs and then sailed from there. He struck out six and walked two in his 111-pitch start and now has a 0.61 ERA in his two victories with Texas.
"That was nice," said Dempster, who had his start pushed back two days for personal reasons. "I was able to settle down after the first inning and make pitches, execute pitches. I had a good slider today and I haven't had that the entire time I've been here yet. We worked hard between starts to get that going and I tried to keep the ball off the middle of the plate and was able to do that."
Dempster had almost no trouble after the first. The Orioles didn't get a runner past second after the first inning and Dempster retired 22 of the final 26 batters he faced, including the final 11. The two times Baltimore had a runner in scoring position after the first inning came with two outs.
"That's what he's capable of doing," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He's not an overpowering guy. He has to execute his pitches, and tonight he executed. As long as he does that, he'll be fine."
The Rangers offense was also fine Monday after they got a look at Baltimore right-hander Miguel Gonzalez. Texas missed out on a scoring opportunity in the first inning but got to Gonzalez for three runs in the fourth inning.
David Murphy's single to left-center tied the game at 1 and Geovany Soto followed with a single to left to put Texas up 2-1. Ian Kinsler added a sacrifice fly.
While that was more than enough support for Dempster, the Rangers added another run in the fifth on a Nelson Cruz double and a run in the eighth on another RBI single from Murphy.
Murphy had two hits and is batting .526 over his last five games with six RBI.
"It's fun to play games like this," Murphy said. "That's what major league baseball is for the most part. We got a great performance out of Ryan Dempster. That's exactly the type of guy he is. He pounded the strike zone. Once we got him a little bit of a lead, you could tell he did it even more so. It was great to see him get quick early outs. Just like that we're back on a little bit of a roll."
Dempster has thrived with run support all season, going 6-1 in the nine starts where he's received at least four runs.
"Your objective is always the same thing, to execute pitches no matter what the score is," said Dempster, who took advantage of the extra time off by throwing an additional bullpen session. "Any time you're ahead in games like that and you have a little bit of cushion, when you get behind in the count you feel like you can challenge a little bit more because you know solo home runs can't hurt you. We have such a great offense, night in, night out, they're putting up big numbers."
Dempster was close to needing just one run Monday. Baltimore scored its lone run with a two-out rally in the first. Adam Jones doubled to right on a ball that Cruz had trouble locating. Matt Wieters followed with an RBI single that skipped off the top of Mitch Moreland's glove.