Holland pitches Rangers past Cubs
CHICAGO (AP) — Derek Holland named his dog Wrigley. He’s now got a win at the venerable old ballpark, and he can thank center fielder Craig Gentry for preserving the victory.
Holland pitched seven shutout innings, Adrian Beltre hit a two-run home run, and Gentry made a diving catch with two outs in the ninth inning and the bases loaded on a Darwin Barney liner to center, preserving the Texas Rangers’ 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on a cold Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
“It was amazing. The kid’s a cat out there. He’s fast and he tracks down everything,” Holland said. “As soon as it went up all I was thinking is this guy’s going to get it and there he was right there to get it for us.”
Holland (1-1) at one point retired nine straight against the Cubs, who have lost three straight games. The Rangers left-hander struck out six and allowed two hits to earn his first win, but had to wait through an anxious ninth.
Nate Schierholtz, pinch-hitting for Scott Hairston, doubled to left off the glove of a sliding Jeff Baker to drive in two runs and cut the Texas lead in half. Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who had replaced reliever Michael Kirkman, then hit Welington Castillo with a pitch to load the bases and put the winning run at first, but Gentry made his play for Nathan’s fifth save in five tries.
Holland, who lost his previous start to Tampa Bay despite giving up two earned runs in eight innings, was just as good Tuesday. He didn’t allow a Cubs runner to reach third base until Alfonso Soriano got there on a wild pitch after doubling in the fourth.
Holland also got the most run support he has all season. Before Tuesday, he had gotten two runs of support while giving up four in 15 innings of work.
Beltre’s home run off Cubs reliever Shawn Camp was his second of the year and gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead in the eighth. Chicago starter Travis Wood (1-1) walked Ian Kinsler and was then relieved by Camp, who allowed Elvis Andrus to single to right before throwing a pickoff attempt away, allowing Kinsler to score and make it 2-0.
Baker, who was with the Cubs from 2009-2012, was 2-for-4 and had an RBI double in the fourth to give Texas a 1-0 lead. The Rangers had scored 11 runs in their previous five games.
The support stood up for Holland, but not until Gentry made his catch.
“In that situation, unless you’re sure you can catch it you don’t do something like that, especially with the winning run coming around” Gentry said. “So, as I got closer to the ball it just kind of kept hanging up there so I knew I had a play on it.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he wasn’t worried, even as the Cubs mounted their ninth-inning rally.
“I figured four runs . we’d get an out before they got four or five,” Washington said. “So we ended up doing it. It took a great play in center but we did it.”
Once again, conditions at Wrigley Field were less than optimal. The first-pitch temperature was 39 degrees with the wind blowing in from right field. A light rain also came and went during the fourth.
Like Holland, Wood didn’t seem bothered by the weather, allowing two runs and striking out three in 7 1-3 innings. Also like Holland, Wood has been plagued by poor run support.
With the left-hander on the mound, the Cubs had scored two runs over two starts.
“It’s a shame. That’s three starts that he has been stellar,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “In all three starts it’s a shame we are not scoring any runs.”
That held for the first eight innings when the Cubs had only three hits.
“We did a good job of putting an inning together there,” said Barney, who came off the disabled list before Tuesday’s game and went 0-for-4. “We’ve been doing that this year, putting together a rally in the ninth inning. It’s time to start doing that a little earlier maybe as a team.”
The Cubs’ late offensive start was almost enough, and maybe it would have been if not for Gentry’s catch.
“To get that final out was a little tough for us but luckily I was able to get a good jump on it and catch it,” Gentry said. “Definitely a big sigh of relief.”
NOTES: The teams observed a moment of silence before Tuesday’s game for Monday’s bombings of the Boston Marathon. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein’s brother Paul finished the race an estimated 45 minutes before the explosions. . Barney made his season debut after coming off the 15-day disabled list, going 0-for-4. . Every player on both teams wore number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. Neither team played Monday, the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking the MLB color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. . The expected pitching matchup Wednesday is the Rangers’ Justin Grimm against the Cubs’ Carlos Villanueva. . Rangers OF David Murphy was given the night off by manager Ron Washington. . Injured Cubs starter Matt Garza is expected to make a rehab appearance for Class A Kane County on Friday.