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TEX@TOR: Holland hurls four-hit shutout vs. Jays

TORONTO -- Derek Holland had a two-run lead with two outs in the second inning, but a walk, an infield hit and his throwing error gave the Blue Jays runners on second and third. That's when manager Ron Washington went to the mound.

"I thought he's going to argue the call ... I didn't think anything of it at first," Holland said. "But he ripped me a new one, that's the best way to put it."

Whatever Washington said had the desired effect. Holland was brilliant from that moment on, pitching his third shutout in his past five games in a 3-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

Holland has four shutouts on the season, the most in the American League and tied with Cliff Lee for the Major League lead. He is the first Rangers pitcher to throw four shutouts in a season since George "Doc" Medich in 1981. The club record is six, set by Ferguson Jenkins in '74 and tied by Bert Blyleven two years later.

The performance came the day before the non-waiver Trade Deadline with various reports that the Rangers were still looking for starting pitching help. That seemed a stretch before Saturday and now seems ludicrous since the AL leader in shutouts is considered the Rangers' "fifth" starter.

Washington was asked if he knew of any pitcher available that could pitch like Holland just did.

"No, I don't think there is anything out there like that," Washington said. "We got someone like that [Lee] last year who was polished, but I don't think there's anyone like that out there right now."

Mitch Moreland's two-run home run in the second inning gave Holland the runs he needed, and Mike Napoli added a ninth-inning shot for good measure.

"You could tell from the get-go that Holland was on his game, and we had to get him some runs," Moreland said. "To be able to give him a couple early was nice, and he cruised the rest of the way."

Moreland's blast was his first official regular-season home run off a left-handed pitcher at the Major League level. In 101 career at-bats during the regular season, Moreland had just four doubles against left-handers. He did have a three-run home run off of Jonathan Sanchez in the World Series last year and a grand slam off Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez that was taken away because of a rainout.

This one wasn't going to be washed away on a day when the sun and high sky caused some trouble on high popups. But Washington was concerned that Holland was going to lose his lead right away.

Holland got two outs in the second and then walked Rajai Davis. John McDonald followed with a chopper to the left of the mound. Holland fielded it but bounced his throw past first baseman Michael Young. That moved runners to second and third.

That's when Washington went to the mound. Normally, he goes to the mound only to change pitchers. When there is a message for the pitcher, pitching coach Mike Maddux usually delivers it. Washington decided he wanted to deliver this one personally.

"I just had to remind him of the importance of that inning," Washington said. "You got two quick outs and then put yourself in position of letting them back in the ballgame. The last thing we needed him to do was let those runs score.

"And then I left."

Holland got the message loud and clear. He struck out catcher J.P. Arencibia on a full-count breaking ball to end the inning.

"It fired me up," Holland said. "I know I shouldn't be making two-out mistakes. That was a bad walk, especially after the offense gave me some runs. I'm supposed to shut them down."

He did from that point on, allowing four singles and just that one walk while striking out five. Three of the four singles were infield hits. A couple of other hits were taken away when Holland deflected line drives back up the middle to either second baseman Ian Kinsler or shortstop Omar Quintanilla.

"The way Holland pitched today, he stayed out of the middle of the plate and we ran into a very good pitching performance on his part," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell. "We had a couple of opportunities in the first and second innings and couldn't cash in. Any ball that we seemingly hit hard was deflected off his glove. You have to tip your hat to the outing today that he had against us."

Holland did it all in just 95 pitches. Since 1994 -- the year Rangers Ballpark opened -- Texas pitchers have thrown 97 complete games of at least nine innings, and this is only the eighth time it has been done in fewer than 100 pitches.

"He's pitching, he's not just throwing," Napoli said. "His stuff was great today. It started in the bullpen and he brought it in the game. He had a good fastball and he mixed in all his off-speed stuff."

The Rangers keep harping about the need for Holland to be consistent, and that infamous two-thirds-of-an-inning performance against the Marlins on July 2 had everybody agonizing over him. Since then, he is 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts.

Holland did allow seven runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Angels in one of those, but the other four? Just one unearned run.

"Consistent ... that's the main thing," Holland said. "That's what everybody said. I know I had a hiccup, you can't go out there and be perfect every time, but I feel consistent." Comments