ANAHEIM -- This time Derek Holland did not let up. He did fall one out short of getting his fifth complete game of the season, but what happened in the ninth inning was irrelevant.What was relevant was what he did with an early five-run lead. A month ago, he let one slip away right here at Angel Stadium. There was no such letdown on Tuesday night, when Holland pitched the Rangers to a 7-3 victory over the Angels to extend their lead in the American League West to six games. "Tonight was about Derek Holland the way he was pitching," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He was sharp, he worked fast and he got things done." So did the Rangers' offense. The Rangers, working over Angels right-hander Tyler Chatwood, finished with 17 hits after getting 14 in an 8-4 victory on Monday. Michael Young was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Josh Hamilton was 3-for-5 with his 15th home run and Mitch Moreland finished with three hits. "We did a good job of being aggressive in the strike zone and laying off stuff that we didn't want to swing at," Young said. "We did a good job one through nine."
The Rangers have won 10 of their last 12 games. They have also won 19 of their last 23 games against AL West teams and are 25-12 against their own division this season.They have also won five straight games on this road trip while hitting .326 with 38 runs scored. They have scored seven or more runs in five straight games while hitting .407 (22-for-54) with runners in scoring position. "It's good ... real good," Hamilton said. "We came out swinging the bats. Derek pitched well and did a great job, and I like the fact we continued to add on runs. We've got to continue to play like that." Hamilton left the game for the final two innings with some spasms in his lower back but is expected to be in the lineup on Wednesday night. "It's just precautionary," Hamilton said. The Rangers won twice with the Angels throwing rookie right-handers Garrett Richards and Chatwood. They are the Angels' fourth and fifth starters, but Washington pointed out that Alexi Ogando, the winning pitcher on Monday, and Holland are the Rangers' fourth and fifth starters. "That's the ground we're playing on," Washington said. Holland, helped considerably by a couple of outstanding defensive plays from shortstop Elvis Andrus, went 8 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. He had one walk and seven strikeouts, and his line would have looked much better if not for allowing a pair of two-out RBI hits in the ninth. That prompted Washington to pull Holland and let Neftali Feliz get the final out even though it wasn't a save situation. "It was time to shut the game down," Washington said. This was Holland's first start in Anaheim since July 20. In that one he had an 8-3 lead going into the sixth and never made it out of that inning. Instead, the Angels rallied for a 9-8 victory. There was no such comeback on Tuesday night. Holland gave up five hits in the first three innings, but the Rangers turned two double plays behind him and the Angels had two runners thrown out on the basepaths in the third. After that, Holland retired 15 of the next 18 batters to take a 7-1 lead into the ninth. "I wasn't going to dwell on what happened before," Holland said. "I know the middle innings have been a problem. But my problem last time was throwing too many fastballs. This time I did a better job of mixing up my off-speed stuff. That and my execution. My execution of my pitches was a lot better tonight." Holland is 5-0 with a 2.63 ERA in his last eight starts and 11-4 with a 4.23 ERA on the season. "He's obviously got a power arm," Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo said. "His fastball usually never gets under 91, 92, and he sits at about 94. So that's his biggest strength. He works both sides of the plate with it and he's got a slider that he can throw for strikes and an occasional changeup. But he comes at you, and with runners on he's especially quick to the plate -- which makes it hard to get your timing right." The Angels, trailing, 5-0, mounted their threat in the third and then ran themselves out of the inning. Howard Kendrick led off with a single and went to third on a double by Erick Aybar. Holland then struck out Jeff Mathis. That brought up Peter Bourjos, who hit a high chopper to Andrus. Bourjos beat the throw as it bounced in the dirt and out of first baseman Moreland's glove. Aybar saw that and tried for third, only to get gunned down by Moreland, who did a good job of knocking down the throw and making an alert throw to third base. "That was huge, a big play," Holland said. Bourjos then got picked off at first by Holland, and the Rangers were out of the inning.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.