After playing 17 of 20 games on the road, the Rangers got a pair of RBI singles from Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton's two-run triple off the wall in the first three innings Monday night. Holland pitched into the eighth for an 8-3 victory over the Houston Astros in the Lone Star Series opener."My offense is still doing the same thing they always do," Holland said after winning at home for the first time in nearly two months. "For me, just better execution."
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The Rangers, who scored more than six runs only once on their just-completed 3-7 trip, had a 7-0 lead after three innings against Houston and J.A. Happ (3-9)."We were able to relax a little bit," manager Ron Washington said. "We did a good job against Happ, not chasing too many of his off-speed pitches. When we got pitches to hit, we didn't try to do too much with it."Mitch Moreland had a leadoff homer in the eighth, a towering shot estimated at 455 feet that landed halfway up in the second deck of seats in right field.Holland (6-2) allowed three runs and six hits with four strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings for his first win at Rangers Ballpark since beating Kansas City on April 22 -- the left-hander had since made four starts at home without a decision.Since a five-hit shutout June 4 at Cleveland, Holland had allowed 10 runs over 12 1/3 innings in two starts, both on the road.Michael Bourn led off the Houston fourth with his 19th infield hit. Jeff Keppinger followed with a double before a sacrifice fly by Carlos Lee and an RBI single by Jason Michaels made it 7-2. But Holland kept the inning from getting any bigger, retiring 11 of the next 13 batters he faced (two walks) through the seventh."He did a good job, maintained his composure," Washington said. "That is a sign of maturity."The Astros (27-47) dropped to 20 games under .500, their lowest point since September 2007, when they reached 21 games under. The only time Houston plummeted to 20 games under .500 in fewer games was in 2000, at 25-45.Happ lost his fifth straight decision in a span of seven starts. He gave up seven runs (five earned) and eight hits over 2 2/3 innings, the left-hander's shortest outing of the season, before reliever Aneury Rodriguez threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings."We just never allowed him to get into a groove and get going," Houston manager Brad Mills said. "You want hitters and pitchers, you want 'em to get into a groove, get 'em going in the game, and we never allowed that."Ian Kinsler reached on an error by third baseman Chris Johnson leading off the first and scored on Beltre's first single to put Texas up 1-0. Michael Young added an RBI double and Nelson Cruz a sacrifice fly.Hamilton tripled off the left-center wall in the second and came home when Beltre singled again to make it 6-0. Craig Gentry chased Happ with an RBI double in the third."I think those same pitches when I'm ahead in the count are different swings. Obviously, the results weren't good tonight," Happ said. "I'd like to say I can forget about it, but that was a tough one for sure."Beltre and Gentry each had three hits.Michaels, who entered hitting .190 with three RBIs in 35 games, had another RBI single in the eighth.The Astros' first hit was Carlos Corporan's one-out single in the third. He was quickly doubled up when second baseman Kinsler made an over-the-shoulder grab of Jason Bourgeois' popup in short right with Corporan already running from first base.Holland also had an impressive defensive play of his own, reaching toward the third base side to snag Johnson's liner to start the seventh."A great play on the mound," Young said.
Texas and Houston play six times in a span of 11 days when both teams have two days off. The Rangers have won 11 of the last 13 in their instate rivalry. ... Bourn got his major league-best 30th stolen base in the first inning. It is his fourth consecutive season with at least 30 steals. ... Hamilton has hit safely in 15 consecutive interleague games at home. ... The game opened a stretch of 16 of 19 games at home for Texas going into the All-Star break. ... Before Happ's early meltdown, Houston starting pitchers had a 2.17 ERA the previous nine games. ... The Astros finished 72-90 in 2000. Through 74 games in its 1962 inaugural season, Houston was 32-41-1.