Holland looks good as Rangers take series

BY foxsports • July 25, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas left-hander Derek Holland is starting to find his groove at just the right time.

Holland, whose first half of the season was slowed by inconsistency, pitched what he thought was his best game of the season Wednesday night as the Rangers topped Boston 5-3.

Holland (7-5) allowed three runs but matched his season high in innings pitched at 7 2/3 and notched his third quality start since he returned from the disabled list earlier this month.

"Overall I felt like I've been consistent," said Holland. "I've gone for the most part an average of six innings. That's good but I think the thing that's hurt me is I've been giving up more runs but I'm throwing strikes. That's going to happen when you throw strikes."

He threw strikes Wednesday, with 68 of his 100 pitches going for strikes. He also struck out seven and walked just one batter. He did allow two homers but both were solo shots. Minimizing damage, which is something he didn't do in his lone bad start of the month against Los Angeles, is huge for Holland.

He had an ERA of at least 5.06 in each of the first three months of the season. His start Wednesday lowered his July total to 3.86.

Holland said one of the biggest reasons for pitching better lately has been his ability to go to his teammates for help. He said he's talked with both Roy Oswalt and Matt Harrison about pitching and the results are paying off.

"I've been doing a lot of talking," said Harrison, who has won consecutive starts only once this season (April 12, April 18). "Picking each other's brains is a huge thing with this rotation. We can get with each other and tell each other different things. We're all talking to each other. We interact."

Wednesday he had a fastball that was in the mid-90s, a strong changeup and a sinker. The changeup is something that Holland's been working on with Oswalt.

"He pounded the strike zone with his fastball and his changeup was pretty good tonight," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "That's the one pitch he has to use. For the most part he kept the ball down."

Holland allowed a first-inning run and another in the third on a Will Middlebrooks homer. But the Rangers got him the lead with three runs off Josh Beckett in the bottom of the fourth.

The Rangers were in an 0-for-10 slide with runners in scoring position before David Murphy delivered an RBI double to get Texas on the board. A squeeze bunt from Craig Gentry tied the game at two and then Ian Kinsler put the Rangers ahead with a blooper to center.

The Red Sox tied the game in the sixth on a Dustin Pedroia homer but Holland came back and retired the next five batters, including striking out the side in the seventh. That gave the Rangers the opportunity to score another run off Beckett as Elvis Andrus scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh.

Holland ran his streak of batters retired to seven in the eighth inning before Pedro Ciriaco beat out an infield single to end Holland's night. Mike Adams got Pedroia to fly out to end the eighth and Nathan preserved the win for Holland with a perfect ninth.

"Derek did a great job," said Young, who had just his third extra-base hit of the month with his double in the fourth. "He worked deep into the game and that's tough to do against a team like Boston. They're really patient and make you work for everything. He got deep into the game and threw a lot of strikes."

Holland's pitching and the timely hitting enabled the Rangers to run their streak of consecutive series won at home to seven.

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