ARLINGTON – Derek Holland let leads of 3-2 and 5-3 slip away, but he didn’t give up a third lead.
Holland, along with the Texas Rangers’ bullpen, made a 6-5 lead stand up the final four innings as they opened a three-game series against Tampa Bay with a victory. Texas maintained a 5 1/2-game lead in the American League West over Oakland, which beat Cleveland.
Holland won consecutive starts for the first time since April, although it wasn’t in impressive fashion. He gave up five runs (three earned) on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts over six innings.
The Rays scored a pair of unearned runs in the first inning off Holland, but that lead didn’t last long. Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz opened the second inning with consecutive solo home runs, and Mike Olt had an RBI groundout later in the inning to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
Tampa Bay tied the game in the third, but Texas responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning on a two-run double by Beltre.
That 5-3 lead disappeared in the fifth, though, when the Rays scored two runs on RBI hits by B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist.
The Rangers broke through for good in the bottom of the fifth when Elvis Andrus singled and then scored on a single by Beltre.
Holland worked a 1-2-3 sixth and then the Rangers’ bullpen dominated. Alexi Ogando had a perfect seventh, Mike Adams followed with a scoreless eighth and Joe Nathan closed out the ninth for his 26th save. Ogando, Adams and Nathan all struck out the first two batters they faced.
Tampa Bay starter David Price turned in his shortest outing since April. The AL Cy Young candidate lasted only four-plus innings, allowing six runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts.-- Drew Davison